Tax-related scams double during coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal

Tax-related scams have almost doubled in the past 12 months, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has revealed.

The tax authority said the coronavirus pandemic has created a perfect environment for criminals to operate in.

According to the most recent figures available, HMRC received more than one million referrals from the public about “suspicious contact” in the last 12 months – nearly double that received in the previous year.

Of these, about half a million related to tax rebates or bogus refunds.

The figures also reveal that 2,460 phone numbers being used to commit fraud were taken down after HMRC received 441,954 reports of phone scams – an increase of 117 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.

Some 13,315 malicious internet domains were also removed from the web, including 441 Covid-19 related scam web pages.

Commenting on the alarming figures, HMRC’s Head of Cyber Security, Mike Fell, said: “These crimes often target the busy, unwary or vulnerable, but anyone can become a victim.”

He added that the coronavirus pandemic had given criminals a “fresh hook for their activity”.

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