HMRC and ICAEW periodically remind taxpayers and members about the need to be vigilant when they are contacted by someone purporting to be from HMRC. The following real life example provided by a member highlights how aggressive the approaches can be:
‘This afternoon I had a call from a client who runs a limited company; he is very diligent and keeps his PAYE and CIS payments up to date.
The client (not based in Northamptonshire) had received a call from ‘a bailiff of Northampton crown court’ saying he had a court warrant to collect £853.27 and that he was on his way to the client’s address (the registered office) to seize goods unless the debt was paid immediately. The ‘bailiff’ added that the amount would go up by £400 if not paid within 30 minutes.
I phoned the ‘bailiff’ who was extremely aggressive and would not say what tax was owed. I then checked online and with HMRC and confirmed that my client did not owe anything. The ‘bailiff’ did not arrive at my client’s address.
HMRC has taken all the details including the mobile phone number and the bank details left by the ‘bailiff’ and is investigating. My client has reported it to the police.
This seems to be a very aggressive scam and I suspect some taxpayers would pay out of panic.’
HMRC publishes fairly extensive guidance on phishing and scams including examples of phishing emails and bogus contact and how to recognise genuine HMRC contact.
I thought that this had been successfully prosecuted and some lengthy gaol sentences had been dished out.