Fraudsters have stolen around $50,000 from four people, but local police believe that the number of victims is higher.
Australia’s authorities have warned the public about an emerging new type of fraudulent scheme involving Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs, Victoria Police Department said on Friday. The illegal scheme has accounted for $50,000 in lost from immigrants in Melbourne suburbs.
Fraudsters called victims by phone and threatened people that they would report them to the authorities and immigrants would get arrested due to their alleged tax debts. To avoid these actions, victims should pay their duties to a certain Bitcoin ATM in Braybrook, Melbourne. Scammers claimed that they had information from accountants and federal police.
All migrants withdrew money from their banks and deposited fiat currency to a particular BTC account.
The scheme targeted four residents so far, but the law enforcement agency said that more people had been affected.
“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,” Katherine Lehpamer, Maribyrnong Crime Investigation Unit Acting Detective Sergeant, noted in the statement.
“It does appear that the scammers are targeting a certain group of people who they can convince that their immigration status is in jeopardy.”
The four victims live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, areas dominated by Asian immigrants with people from China making up 30% of the migrants there.
Local and federal Australian authorities do not collect tax debts through cryptocurrency or Bitcoin ATMs, Victoria police explained.
“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,” Lehpamer said.
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, is the second-most populous Australian city, after Sydney. There are several Bitcoin ATMs in Melbourne, mostly in the Braybrook area.
Crypto scams became the second-most recognized fraud by investors, according to a mid-year report of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).