HM Revenue & Customs  

Four arrested in suspected multi-million pound tax scam

Four arrested in suspected multi-million pound tax scam

Four people have been arrested as part of an investigation into a suspected multi-million pound phone scam targeting UK taxpayers.

In an update yesterday (July 29) HMRC said two men and two women had been arrested and questioned on suspicion of money laundering offences, with property searches yielding £10,000 in cash alongside computers and mobile phones. 

It comes as HM Revenue & Customs warned reports of phone scams had rocketed by 95 per cent in the last year, with the public flagging 203,000 accounts of suspected fraud.

Richard Mayer, assistant director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: "Criminals use a range of techniques in tax-related phone scams, including calling unsuspecting taxpayers to offer a bogus tax refund, or threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay fictitious tax bills.

"These scams often target the elderly and vulnerable. We are a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to try and add credibility to their scams"

In the past year the taxman has reported more than 1,700 phone numbers being used in tax-related phone scams to telephone companies to have them deactivated. 

Recent months have seen multiple warnings that the economic and social stresses of the coronavirus pandemic could present an opportunity to fraudsters looking to prey on financial uncertainty. 

Earlier this month the Personal Finance Society called on advisers to act as a barrier of defence between fraudsters and unsuspecting victims during the coronavirus crisis. 

It came as it emerged millions fell victim to fraudsters during the lockdown, particularly pension scammers preying on the vulnerable amid economic confusion

Mr Mayer added: "If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help, are owed a tax refund or owe tax, and asks for personal or bank details, it might be a scam.

"If you can’t verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you do not speak to them."

The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment recently called on newly retired members to volunteer their experience to the City of London Police in its fight against fraud.

Ian Dyson, commissioner of the City of London Police, said if CISI members wanted to "do something away from their day job on a voluntary basis" he would find them a role. 

Earlier this year Action Fraud warned coronavirus-related fraud reports had increased by 400 per cent and the number of pension scams had soared since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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