- On 18 September in Canterbury a woman lost £4,000 after being contacted by someone claiming to be from HMRC. They demanded immediate payment and threatened her with arrest.
- On 30 September police received a call from a man in Maidstone who had paid out over £11,000 after receiving a call from someone claiming to be from HMRC. He was told that he could either pay the money or go to court for tax evasion.
- On the same day in Dartford a woman was contacted by someone stating they were from HMRC and she would be arrested if she did not pay £6,000. The fraudsters made her download an app to transfer the funds.
Detective Sergeant Alec Wood of the Volume Fraud Team said: ‘These fraudsters prey on vulnerable individuals and use scare tactics, like the threat of arrest, to rush people into making rash decisions and parting with large sums of money.
‘They are good at what they do and always have a convincing reason why money has to be received a certain way. In addition to a direct bank transfer they also encourage people to purchase gift cards or download money transfer apps to make a payment.
‘Not content with stealing from a person once, it is not uncommon they will persistently target someone over a period of time, in some instances lump sums have been paid on three or four occasions.
‘It is important we all stay alert to these fraudsters and speak to anyone who may be vulnerable to ensure they are aware of steps they can take to keep themselves and their money safe.
‘There are several variations of this particular scam. They sometimes use an automated phone call, or tell you that you’re entitled to a tax refund and ask you to call them. Avoid engaging with these people, make a note of the numbers they are using and report them to HMRC.
‘Take a moment to stop and think before paying out any money or giving information, if you have the slightest doubt the caller is legitimate challenge them – only a criminal will try and rush you into making a payment.
‘Its fine to refuse, ignore and reject calls if you don’t know the caller, however if you have given out financial details contact your bank immediately as they may be able to stop a transaction.
‘If you do become a victim of this crime contact Action Fraud. Often people are embarrassed to come forward but these are professional fraudsters and people should not feel ashamed to seek help, it may also prevent someone else from becoming a victim.’
- If you get a call from someone claiming to be from HMRC and you feel you need to engage with them, ask the caller to put the demand in writing to you. If they then ask to confirm your address – do not – as HMRC already have that information.
- Be mindful that any legitimate demand for tax will be in writing.
- HMRC will never ask anybody to pay a fine by purchasing gift cards, if you get a call like this, then hang up immediately.