The Federal Government has issued an urgent warning that recipients of coronavirus stimulus payments will be the targets of scammers.
The Federal Government has issued an urgent warning that recipients of coronavirus stimulus payments will be the targets of scammers.

Scammers already at work targeting coronavirus stimulus pay

OFFSHORE crime syndicates have mobilised to pilfer coronavirus stimulus payments set aside for pensioners and welfare recipients, sparking an urgent warning from the Morrison Government.

Just hours after Scott Morrison unveiled $4.8 billion in one-off cash sugar hits, scammers sent out bulk emails to Australians, asking them to provide their name, date of birth, address, tax file number, plus copies of driver's licences, passports and Medicare Cards.

Sources say the fraud is part of a wider plot to steal Australians' identities to potentially set up fake accounts in their name or onsell the personal information to other networks.

Just as people smugglers watch Senate estimates for the latest information about refugee policy, the revelation shows Australia remains vulnerable to transnational crime.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said Services Australia would automatically process the payments after March 31.

"To help prevent fraudulent behaviour, Services Australia will not be proactively contacting anyone asking for personal details - if you need to update your details, you can do this online through your myGov account, or by calling Services Australia," he said.

"If you receive an email purporting to be from Services Australia or Centrelink about the stimulus payments, it is most likely to be a scam.

"Services Australia will not communicate via email about these payments."

It is understood the Government is determined not to make the same mistakes as the Rudd government when it unleashed cash payments into the economy during the Global Financial Crisis.

About 16,000 dead people and 27,000 Australians living overseas received $40 million in payments. The Australian Taxation Office said at least $14 million went to deceased estates. Its insulation package was also rorted by criminals.

The Government advised scam victims to call Services Australia's Scam and Identity Theft hotline on 1800 941 126.


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