Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Taxpayers targeted by fraudsters through fake e-mails

As it has been reported in various newspapers today, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are warning taxpayers, in particular small business owners and the self-employed, of fake emails that are being sent out to taxpayers, stating that a tax rebate is owed and then asking for bank or credit card details so that money can be refunded to them (Metro) . These emails, which have been sent from addresses such as and, are being sent out just as the January 31st deadline for online self-assessment forms is approaching, when many taxpayers will be due a tax rebate. Taxpayers are then being asked to enter details online, or by calling a telephone line which appears to keep ringing with callers being charged up to £6 a minute.

The Financial Director explains that the emails promise the recipient a tax refund and consequently prompts them to the HMRC web site via a link. However, the link leads to a very convincing fake web site hosted in Denmark.

The emails are reported to read like this:

'Over the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of £99.23.

Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 3-6 days in order to process it.'

HMRC claim that taxpayers are forwarding 500 of these fake emails to the authorities every day, but fear that a much large number of emails have in face been sent out by fraudsters. The Metro reports that between April and November in 2008 more than 11,000 reports of fraudulent emails were made. HMRC officials fear that such emails will probably still be sent after the January 31 self-assessment deadline had passed. As part of their fight against fraudsters, HMRC have worked with police and had fake websites closed down in Austria, Mexico, US, Japan and Thailand.

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