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  • FIRST POST
    • westbridgfordguy
    • By westbridgfordguy 9th Aug 18, 8:23 PM
    • 75Posts
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    westbridgfordguy
    Bogus HMRC investigation letter?
    • #1
    • 9th Aug 18, 8:23 PM
    Bogus HMRC investigation letter? 9th Aug 18 at 8:23 PM
    I received at home a hand delivered letter today looking incredibly authentic from the HMRC Fraud Investigation Team basically saying that they are conducting an investigation into suspected Corporation Tax fraud and they need to interview me as I have knowledge of companies which would be of interest to them.

    It stresses that I am not under investigation and that an investigator came round my house today but I was out and to contact them on given e-mail address or mobile number signed by an HMRC investigator.

    Is this a bogus letter, I didn't think HMRC made unannounced home visits to members of the public? The letter does look incredibly genuine with the HMRC logo and Newcastle address for the Fraud Investigation Service on the letter head?
Page 1
    • DJMitchell
    • By DJMitchell 9th Aug 18, 8:58 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    DJMitchell
    • #2
    • 9th Aug 18, 8:58 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Aug 18, 8:58 PM
    What were the details of the address/ phone number and email address?

    Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post them on here.
    • chrismac1
    • By chrismac1 9th Aug 18, 9:01 PM
    • 2,561 Posts
    • 1,546 Thanks
    chrismac1
    • #3
    • 9th Aug 18, 9:01 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Aug 18, 9:01 PM
    It sounds dubious to me, but they do make visits like that. It's very unlikely that HMRC would give you a mobile number, though, much more likely to be a landline at Benton Park, Newcastle.


    Also, corporation tax I thought was not dealt with at Newcastle. For example, most of my client companies are based in Cumbria and it is the Dundee office for that.


    One thing for anyone who is reading this to take on board. Should anyone turn up at your door claiming to be from HMRC and either seeking money or information, ask to see their photo ID. If he or she produces it, make a careful note of all the details on it. If you have any doubts ask for the physical office that HMRC person is operating from, then call that landline number and ask to be put through to him or her.


    There are lots of "HMRC" scams on the go at the moment. In my client base of 147 clients, I get sent details of one by a scared client probably twice a month on average. Even pretty savvy clients can think they are genuine.


    So on balance this one is probably a scam. But certain branches of HMRC operate with similar methods to scammers - Debt Collection, for example - so I can't be more than 80% confident.
    Hideous Muddles from Right Charlies
    • westbridgfordguy
    • By westbridgfordguy 9th Aug 18, 10:13 PM
    • 75 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    westbridgfordguy
    • #4
    • 9th Aug 18, 10:13 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Aug 18, 10:13 PM
    What were the details of the address/ phone number and email address?

    Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post them on here.
    Originally posted by DJMitchell
    Fraud Investigation Service
    HMRC
    Dept 198, FIS
    SO125
    Newcastle
    NE98 1ZZ

    E-mail was first.last name@HMRC.gsi.gov.uk (have omitted persons name)

    Should I contact the police if this is not genuine?
    • DJMitchell
    • By DJMitchell 9th Aug 18, 10:50 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    DJMitchell
    • #5
    • 9th Aug 18, 10:50 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Aug 18, 10:50 PM
    well the address and email are both legitimate HMRC, that doesn't necessarily mean the letter is legit though.
    I would recommend ringing Benton Park View on 0300 200 3310 and asking for the specific department rather than chancing the mobile number because I still feel that is strange to give out. I would also have thought there would be a reference on the letter as well.
    • Dazed and confused
    • By Dazed and confused 10th Aug 18, 7:07 AM
    • 3,288 Posts
    • 1,655 Thanks
    Dazed and confused
    • #6
    • 10th Aug 18, 7:07 AM
    • #6
    • 10th Aug 18, 7:07 AM
    And there is such a department in HMRC, google Fraud Investigation COP 8 for more information on what they do.
    • ciderboy2009
    • By ciderboy2009 10th Aug 18, 7:52 AM
    • 497 Posts
    • 443 Thanks
    ciderboy2009
    • #7
    • 10th Aug 18, 7:52 AM
    • #7
    • 10th Aug 18, 7:52 AM
    The fact that it's a gsi (Government Secure Intranet) email address makes it 99.9% genuine to me.
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 10th Aug 18, 8:04 AM
    • 7,314 Posts
    • 7,023 Thanks
    00ec25
    • #8
    • 10th Aug 18, 8:04 AM
    • #8
    • 10th Aug 18, 8:04 AM
    d they need to interview me as I have knowledge of companies which would be of interest to them.
    Originally posted by westbridgfordguy
    so what do you think is going to be scammed from you?

    what are the chances that someone other than HMRC knows a) where you live so they can hand deliver something and b) knows that you know about these specific companies?

    we have had posts on here before from HMRC staff confirming that the investigators do make unannounced physical calls to people and do, for obvious reasons, give out mobile numbers to allow direct contact. How else could they operate!

    Normally Chrismac's well known contempt of HMRC is right and proper, but in this case he should have said it is 80% not a scam

    reporting to the police will be ignored anyway. read the news, they don't have the time to investigate non crimes given they can't even investigate those crimes that do happen.
    • kazwookie
    • By kazwookie 10th Aug 18, 8:08 AM
    • 10,167 Posts
    • 125,647 Thanks
    kazwookie
    • #9
    • 10th Aug 18, 8:08 AM
    • #9
    • 10th Aug 18, 8:08 AM
    Ring up HMRC via the number given above, or you look their number up from their web site, and ask to speak to the relevant department.

    Do not ring any numbers on any thing that was hand delivered to you.
    Sun, Sea
    Slinky is back on!
    • chrismac1
    • By chrismac1 10th Aug 18, 8:36 AM
    • 2,561 Posts
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    chrismac1
    I have to say, as someone who has had quite a bit of experience in dealing with unnannounced HMRC visits in my client base, that in the early stages it is more or less impossible for me to tell on the phone - the client will normally call me - whether it is a scam or genuine HMRC.


    The tactics are very similar. When you are dealing with Debt Management, the people are very similar and their behaviours are very similar. Personally I think HMRC senior management should take a good hard look at the aggressive way they often approach these situations, there really is no difference in practice between a call from HMRC saying "you must pay us this right now or else" and one from a scammer saying "you must pay us this right now or else". Quite often a mobile phone number is all the HMRC person - or contractor where HMRC has contracted things out - gives my client, which is pretty much the acid test of a scammer is it not?



    Only checking the photo ID and then tracing things back to a landline and verifying that a bona fide HMRC staff member is based on that landline number will really cut it.


    My general advice in dealing with any form of cold call applies to "HMRC" equally to any other form of cold call:


    If it walks like a spiv and talks like a spiv, then it is a spiv until proven otherwise beyond all reasonable doubt.
    Last edited by chrismac1; 10-08-2018 at 8:39 AM.
    Hideous Muddles from Right Charlies
    • xylophone
    • By xylophone 10th Aug 18, 10:51 AM
    • 27,645 Posts
    • 16,610 Thanks
    xylophone
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684324/COP8_02_18.pdf

    We will use our statutory information powers, if necessary, to approach third parties for information.

    Nevertheless, to turn up unannounced at the home of a third party (presumably expecting admittance) on the basis that the person might have information relating to certain other parties seems very strange.

    What about the privacy of the companies to whom the investigation relates? Does the third party have the right to know that they are the subject of an investigation?

    What if the third party discusses the matter with other unrelated persons?

    I would not make any contact through the details shown on the letter before contacting the official number shown on the government web site and even then I would be inclined to request a letter through the post from the official source before giving any information at all.
    • jimmo
    • By jimmo 10th Aug 18, 10:31 PM
    • 1,999 Posts
    • 2,423 Thanks
    jimmo
    Its more than 10 years since I retired from HMRC and the email address you have given is in exactly the same format as we all had back then.
    Also those of us who were "on the road" carried Warrant cards as photo identity so if you agree to meet this person make sure you see his Warrant Card as opposed to the more standard building pass (usually worn on a chain around the neck). Those are pretty anonymous and don't mention HMRC on them.
    Also when we wanted to meet people we would offer to hold the meeting:
    1) In their home
    2) Their workplace
    3) Their accountants' premises
    4) Any convenient HMRC office

    If you are in the slightest doubt insist that your meeting takes place on HMRC premises.
    • Cook_County
    • By Cook_County 11th Aug 18, 12:08 PM
    • 2,946 Posts
    • 2,080 Thanks
    Cook_County
    Parliament has given HMRC significant "dawn raid" powers https://www.taxation.co.uk/Articles/2017/09/26/336996/hmrc-s-criminal-investigation-powers
    • chrismac1
    • By chrismac1 11th Aug 18, 1:48 PM
    • 2,561 Posts
    • 1,546 Thanks
    chrismac1
    The problem here is that when these raids take place, in feel and approach they are not much like with dealing with the clued-up professional tax authorities of the 1990s.


    They in fact feel a lot more like the high-pressure, spivvy conmen who attempt to pressurise vulnerable people into handing over money on the spot. There is not a single month goes by when some client or other does not contact me about what turns out to be a bogus e-mail or phone call puporting to be from HMRC.


    As I said above, in my view the onus is very much on HMRC to stop behaving in the field like spivvy salespeople and start behaving like a professional tax authority.


    Nothing highlights this more than my last VAT inspection, which was conducted by a true professional. Early doors he satisfied himself that the 60k he'd been sent to get was a wild goose chase, but still did really well and got 6k back where one of the client's suppliers, whose website features a Union Jack front and centre, was actually domiciled in Luxembourg and reverse charging VAT.


    That was how just about all HMRC field people behaved 20 years ago - knowledgably, courteously, professionally. As we closed the meeting, he disclosed his job was being made redundant.


    What an absolute bunch of wallies HMRC is run by!
    Hideous Muddles from Right Charlies
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