Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued a warning that fraudsters are sending out fake e-mails promising rebates.
An estimated five million people filed their tax returns online last month and now many of them are receiving emails which purport to come from HMRC saying there has been an error in calculating their tax and they are now due a refund.

The scammers then ask for personal bank or credit card details so that the refund can be paid. In a variation of the scam some fraudsters are phoning people up, posing as tax officers, and asking for personal information so that the ‘rebates’ can be paid.

HMRC admit that the fraudsters are very plausible. The e-mails come from addresses such as refundtax@hmrc.gov.co.uk and claims@hmrc.direct.gov.uk and the websites to which these are linked look very much like HMRCs own website. The sums of money being offered as a ‘refund’ are quite modest and realistic – usually a couple of hundred pounds and many people are being taken in – even ones who didn’t file a tax return at all!

These sort of emails are sent out “willy nilly” to any address the fraudsters come across. I got one and I don’t even live in the UK or pay tax there. In fact they must have harvested the address from my www.jamesgreenandco.co.uk website which offers tax advice! It’s that dot co dot uk that they will have picked up on even though I live on the Isle of Man.

Lesley Strathie, Chief Executive of HMRC said: “This is the most sophisticated phishing scam we have encountered. We only ever contact customers who are due a refund by writing to them through the post. We never use e-mails or telephone calls in these circumstances. I would strongly encourage anyone receiving such an e-mail to send it to us for investigation.”

So far HMRC have received over 15,000 reports of scam e-mails though it fears this may be only the tip of the iceberg. It is working with law enforcement agencies in the UK and elsewhere to close down the fraudsters. It has already succeeded in shutting down scam networks in Austria, Mexico, the USA, Thailand and Japan.

Anyone who receives a suspected scam e-mail is urged to forward it, unopened, to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

3 Responses to “Thousands Hit by Tax Refund Scam”

  1. ChrisJo says:

    Thanks for this info. A friend of mine was talking about being told she had a tax refund due and I showed her this. She contacted HMRC who told her it was a scam. Well done, You saved her a lot of trouble.

  2. Rich Day says:

    If these people weren’t so lazy, they could make an honest living. What a shame.

  3. uwiniwin says:

    One has to be so careful and sensible enough to identify scams and not fall prey to false reassurances. This is a good article that alerts you about tax refund scams.

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