Moore Thompson warns clients to watch out for sophisticated HMRC scam emails

A new kind of sophisticated scam email purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has recently been brought to our attention.

Moore Thompson are warning clients to approach any correspondence which appears to be from HMRC with caution, after one of our contacts received a very convincingly-branded spam email.

The bogus email, entitled ‘Pending tax repayment’ featured seemingly genuine HMRC and GOV.UK branding and logos.

Furthermore, the sender’s email address was listed as ‘online@hmrc.gov.uk’ – an address which, until closely cross-referenced with the Revenue’s own details, appears to be a legitimate HMRC contact email.

The scam email informed the recipient that HMRC had been trying to contact them regarding an “outstanding tax return bill.”

It said that the recipient was due a refund of £83.20 – and craftily explained that the reader must create a Government Gateway account in order to learn more about the “promised refund.”

These instructions were then followed by a bogus Government Gateway web link requesting further personal information and details.

This is one of the most sophisticated scam emails we have seen yet, making mention of genuine HMRC services such as Government Gateway and utilising a seemingly legitimate email address.

The scam email even went so far as to feature bogus small print reminding the recipient to be on the lookout for other HMRC scams!

Despite being a scam itself, its small print read: “If you’re unsure an email is from HMRC: Report the suspicious email to HMRC – to find out how, go to GOV.UK and search for ‘Avoid and report internet scams and phishing.”

Moore Thompson are warning clients to be hyper-aware of the increasingly sophisticated nature of HMRC scam emails.

Never open any attachments or click on any links featured within unsolicited emails, and always contact HMRC directly if you are unsure of the legitimacy of an email.

HMRC advises that it will “never send notifications of a tax rebate or refund by email, or ask recipients to disclose personal or payment information by email.”

Further information regarding how to spot bogus HMRC contact is available on the tax authority’s website here.