Police Issue Advice Regarding HMRC Scam

Cleveland Police is issuing advice to members of the public regarding scammers purporting to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Police have received reports of suspects who have contacted victims via telephone and left voicemail messages claiming that the victim owes outstanding amounts of money for unpaid taxes and legal action is being taken against them.

They claim that the victim will be taken to court and in some circumstances they also claim that there is a warrant out for their arrest and that police will be going to their home. They advise the victim that if they pay immediately they can stop the police attending and settle the matter. They request payment in the form of iTunes vouchers as a matter of urgency and have, on occasion, been very persuasive and forceful towards victims.

In the first six months of this year there have been a total of 43 reports of this type of scam, compared to 19 in the first six months of 2016, however, the amount of cash lost to this type of scam has reduced. £15,000 was lost from HMRC scams in the first six months of last year, compared to £2,484 this year. This suggests that whilst the scam has become more prominent this year, victims have become more aware of it and have been vigilant and cautious.

Inspector Steve Bell, from Cleveland Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “Cleveland Police has worked closely with local communities to raise awareness of this scam and how to identify them through scam awareness sessions and working with the Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS).

“Anyone called by a scammer is advised not to follow their instructions and to report the incident to police. A legitimate company or agency would not ask for payment in the form of iTunes vouchers.”

For further help and advice you can visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or www.getsafeonline.org.