By Kate Brown
HMRC have issued warnings over scams attempting to defraud businesses out of thousands of pounds. HMRC have reported criminals impersonating tax collectors over text messages, emails, phone calls and through websites. According to Angela MacDonald, head of customer service at HMRC, “these scammers are very confident, convincing and utterly ruthless” and “these scams often prey on vulnerable people”. HMRC report that scammers frequently using intimidation and intelligent information in order to get what they want.
Earlier this month one of our clients, a hairdressing business, received a phone scam which attempted to defraud them out of hundreds of pounds.
At a hairdressing store, a member of staff received an aggressive phone call from an individual claiming to be a bailiff. During the call, members of staff were told that they owed hundreds of pounds to HMRC and if this was not paid within 30 minutes threatened to seize goods from the store. The scammer managed to receive key information such as how many people worked at the company.
Once the phone call was directed to the company owner, the scammer used the information which had been provided by members of staff in an attempt to establish legitimacy. The scammer, who identified himself to the owner as a high court Sherriff acting on behalf of HMRC, also provided convincing information such as a reference number and badge number. The scammer gave the owner a deadline of 10 minutes to ring a Birmingham court telephone number where the reference and badge number could be checked out. However, it was later confirmed by a county court that there was no outstanding balance against the company.
The client described the call itself being very fast, aggressive and convincing. The company contacted the police and reported the incident to Action Fraud.
To find out more information or to report a fraud to Action Fraud click here.