HMRC scam looks to pilfer bank accounts

Posted on October 16, 2015


Fraudsters that target the unwary through a phishing scam have adopted a different approach from their usual
IRS tax rebate scam.

Instead of emails mimicking the US-based Internal Revenue Service, criminals have instead been sending emails that claim to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

In an example obtained by Engage Web, the fake HMRC advised the recipient that he had been awarded a tax rebate of £632.25. In order for the money to be transferred, the user is prompted to sign in to their online banking account from a link embedded within the message. However, the link takes you to a scam website which is used to steal your bank account details. After that, your personal details may be sold on to other gangs looking to capitalise on identity theft.

HMRC screenshot

At first glance, it’s easy to understand how some people may fall for the trap. It uses HMRC logos, and in comparison to the usual scam emails that involve Nigerian princes looking to move their money and offering to pay you a fee in return for your bank account details, the language used is reasonable. It doesn’t make you feel pressured into acting, but in a trusted internet marketing technique designed to motivate a potential customer into acting, a time limit is placed on the deal.

However, closer inspection reveals that the email isn’t what it pretends to be. For a start, the standard of English used isn’t as professional as one would expect from a Government department, and the sender’s email address is, which is from a website based in Israel – far away from the seat of HMRC in Parliament Street, London.

According to a report in The Telegraph, 2013 saw more than 91,000 similar emails reported to HMRC. In the same year, 1,476 websites that were a part of the scam were shut down.

In a statement on its website, HMRC says that it never sends taxpayers notification of rebates or refunds via email, and that it never asks people to present any payment or personal information through email either.

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