Vulnerable citizens are being wrongly informed that they owe money to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Some of those targeted are even informed that there is a warrant out for their arrest or a case being built against them unless they agree to pay immediately.
Fraudsters are contacting victims through cold calls, voicemails and text messages, warning them of bogus debts, and are requesting payment via iTunes gift cards.
One man, aged 87, told the BBC that he was instructed to purchase a £500 gift card and reveal the serial numbers on the back of the card in order to settle the bill he owed. Once he had done this a further £1,300 in voucher codes was demanded, at which point he became suspicious.
A HMRC spokesperson said: “We are aware that some people have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from HMRC.
“We have a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.
“HMRC will never request tax debts to be paid in payment vouchers and we are clear that they cannot be used to pay tax.”
According to Action Fraud, scammers like using iTunes gift cards to request payment as vouchers can be easily redeemed and sold on.
The organisation has asked for people to be vigilant when discussing the payment of taxes, and issued the following advice on receiving phone calls and text messages:
- HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way
- Telephone numbers and text messages can be easily imitated. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display
- If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.