Victims have been conned more than $50,000 in an elaborate Bitcoin ATM phone scam after being threatened with jail if they don’t pay up.
At least four victims, all from Melbourne’s east, have been identified after handing over cash to repay a fake tax debt.
The victims are contacted by the scammers and told if they don’t pay their tax debt to a Bitcoin ATM in Braybrook they will be jailed.
The victims then withdrew money from their bank accounts before travelling to the Braybrook Bitcoin ATM.
They’re then given a code and instructed to deposit their money into a specific Bitcoin account, only to realise afterwards they were throwing their life savings away.
Victoria Police say they’ve identified a few variations of the con but in most cases, the scammers tell the victims they have spoken to an accountant or to the federal police about the debt.
Police said the scheme targets vulnerable people who they can convince their immigration status is in jeopardy.
"We believe that there are a number of victims out there who have not reported the matter for one reason or another, they may be here on visas or they are not aware that authorities would never tell them to deposit money into an ATM," Acting Detective Sergeant Katherine Lehpamer said.
"Anyone getting a call along these lines should make enquiries with the relevant authority before paying any money or giving any banking or personal details over the phone."
Authorities are urging anyone who may have fallen victim to this scam to contact police.
Read more: Everything you need to know about Bitcoin
Bitcoin ATMs, which are very limited in Melbourne, allow customers to exchange cash for the cryptocurrency.
Some bitcoin ATMs also allow customers to sell the cryptocurrency for cash.
One Bitcoin is worth more than $9250 Australian dollars.
For information on the latest scam information from Victoria Police, click here.
Anyone who has information about this matter is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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