The season of goodwill offers no protection against scams

21 December 2017

The latest telephone scam sees vulnerable and elderly people being tricked, through cold calling, with scammers pretending to be from HMRC and informing them that they owe a large amount of tax that can only be paid off though digital vouchers and gift cards which also include gift cards used for Apples iTunes store.

By using intimidation and threats, to cease property or goods or involve the police, victims buy the vouchers and provide the redemption codes to the scammers who then sell them on or buy high purchase items. What makes this an attractive scam is that they are easy to sell on and hard to trace once used.

HMRC want to make clear they would not under any circumstances request the settling of debt through such a method.

Figures published by the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, Action Fraud, show that since the beginning of 2016 and until August this year there have been over 1,500 reports of this scam, with the numbers increasing in recent months. The vast majority of the victims are aged over 65 and suffered an average financial loss of £1,150 each.

Chief executive of Tax Help for Older People, Gary Millner, confirmed “… We have taken too many calls from people who have fallen foul of it. The amounts of money lost are significant for some, and the feelings of helplessness, violation and embarrassment are immense.”

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer services warned “These scammers are very confident, convincing and utterly ruthless. We don’t want to see anyone fall victim to this scam just before Christmas. That’s why we’re working closely with crime fighters to ensure taxpayers know how to avoid it.”

Protect your friends, family and neighbours this Christmas by warning them about this scam and if you suspect that you or a vulnerable or elderly relative has been the victim of this scam or a similar one, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online reporting tool.