Lawyer outsmarts alleged ATO phone scammer threatening lawsuit over ‘unpaid tax debts’

In a phone call recorded by a Queensland solicitor and supplied to SBS online, an alleged scammer can be heard informing the lawyer that the ATO had launched a lawsuit against him due to an outstanding tax debt.

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James Torcetti returned a call from the scammer, inquiring about a message he’d received.    

“So I need to have your lawyer’s name and number who will be able to represent you,” the scammer who referred to himself as ‘Mr Lee’ said.   

Mr Torcetti then queried what had prompted the lawsuit.

The scammer replied that Mr Torcetti had failed to lodge tax returns from 2014 to 2016.

In the ensuing back-and-forth, Mr Torcetti asked why his lawyer’s details were necessary if the ATO hadn’t even spoken with his accountant.

“What are the legal charges? What act is it under? What section? What are the facts? Where’s my summons,” Mr Torcetti fired off.

At this point the scammer unleashed a tirade on Mr Torcetti. 

“Listen to me, mother******,” the scammer said twice. “You are a mother******.”

The scammer then hung up. 

Mr Torcetti said he’d since been blocked from calling the number. 

An ATO spokeswoman was unable to confirm Mr Torcetti had been targeted in a scam.

However, she recommended not calling back anyone suspected to be a scammer.

In a statement on the ATO website, Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said it was important to know what to look out for and what to do if targeted by scammers.

“Tell-tale signs include a caller threatening you with arrest or jail, aggressive or rude behaviour, or asking you to pay money into strange bank accounts or settle tax debts with things like gift cards or iTunes cards. We would never do this,” Ms Anderson said.

“If something doesn’t sound right, you can always check your myGov account, ask your tax agent, or call us directly on 1800 008 540 to see if the contact is legitimate. Be especially wary if you’re asked to make a payment, make sure you only use one of the methods listed on our website.”

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