Melbourne woman receives $16,290 from ATO but wants it removed from her bank account

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Aussie dollars
Australian dollar denominations shown in a photo illustration at a currency exchange in Sydney, Australia, June 7, 2016. Reuters/Jason Reed

A Melbourne couple has received $26,000 from the Australian Taxation Office, but the money was not theirs. They believe their personal information was used by thieves to launch a fraudulent tax return.

Earlier this week, Gay Mitchell accessed her online banking account to pay bills. She then noticed her bank balance had an extra $16,290. She thought the ATO had incorrectly sent someone else’s tax return into her account. But she noticed her husband also had an extra credit of $10,000. That was when she became concerned about a system failure.

In an interview with 3AW radio station, she said she paid tax as an employee, but would not receive that much back. She told news.com.au that she was contacted by her tax agent confirming an appointment she never knew about.

Mitchell said she did not know how scammers obtained access to her personal data or files. They would reportedly contact victims and pretend to be the ATO, saying the amount returned was a mistake.

The Mitchells have not been contacted by the Tax Office yet. The $26,000 is still in their bank accounts.

'Disconcerting from a security perspective'

Mitchell has talked to her tax agent to request more information about the breach. She was concerned whether she had to change her personal details, including her tax file number.

“If it’s overseas scammers I won't be too concerned but if it’s somebody within Australia they would know a lot of things about us through those records,” she said. She is also concerned somebody got their address, adding she was hoping the scammers were not from the country. “Scammers have managed to get into files and create documentation and the ATO did not have any checks in place."

Mitchell wants the money removed from her bank account at the soonest time possible. It causes confusion when mixed with her own money, thus she wants to know how much she should spend. Mark Chapman, H&R Block director of tax communications, has told the Daily Telegraph that scammers were asking for bank account details for fake refunds as the company had several clients that have already been contacted.

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