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HMRC phone scam. 'A lawsuit has been filed against you.'
J Thomas
Posted: 10 February 2017 14:40:58(UTC)

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I would like to draw forum members attention to a particularly vile scam which is currently being operated by fraudsters.
My sister was phoned this morning by a 'lady' pertaining to be an HMRC case officer. The message was: 'This is Heather Gray, I am a case officer from Her Majesties Revenue and Customs, HMRC have filed a lawsuit in court against you. To discuss your case press 1'.
My sister panicked into pressing 1, a live person answered who informed her that that £9000 tax was due for year 2012/13 in the most serious tones, the money had to be paid at once or a warrant would be issued for her arrest. To avoid a 50% further penalty the money could be paid by instant bank transfer, or the bank account would be closed and the money taken out directly by HMRC, as the law had been changed allowing HMRC to do this.
My sister was in tears and very distressed, but fortunately hung up. The callers number was 02033895932, although the scammers use many different UK landline numbers to give the call extra validity. Researching this scam online it seems to be operated in the UK, although the initial message has a US accent.
Apparently this scam has already netted several million pounds for the fraudsters. They use shock and awe tactics to terrify callers into paying up instantly by phone before they realise they have been scammed.
The absolute scum of the Earth, please be aware.
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Derek Webber
Posted: 10 February 2017 15:26:04(UTC)

Joined: 17/12/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1

Well done for posting this...more people should be made aware.

I received the same call from the same number but just hung up.

I did report the call to Action Fraud UK but was not able to report the telephone number...not impressed, although it is probably not a genuine number otherwise these people could be traced and caught.
chubby bunny
Posted: 10 February 2017 15:51:32(UTC)

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Thanks for the heads up; another scam to add to the list. Seems most of the calls to my landline are unwanted these days: PPI, free boilers, free roof insulation, 'Microsoft' scams, market research etc. I use throwaway e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers to sign up to websites I don't trust; the amount of spam they get is ridiculous! Black market data is big business.
Andrew Amies-King
Posted: 10 February 2017 17:26:22(UTC)

Joined: 15/03/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1

This number has been reported numerous times this month on Same scam coming from 01618507454 apparently.

I let all landline calls be answered by my answerphone and only pick up if it's a genuine call. Most scams come to my mobile but, again, if the number isn't in my contacts I let it go to voicemail; if it's genuine they will leave a message. Sometimes scams leave a message then I block their number so they can't reach me again.

Unfortunately my elderly mother has done away with her answerphone but fortunately is aware of telephone scams and is quick to hang up but this type of criminal activity is particularly worrying where the elderly are concerned. I have just signed my mother's number up to BT Call Protect so will see if it turns out to be effective.

andy mac
Posted: 10 February 2017 18:19:16(UTC)

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ensure you are signed up for TPS and MPS ( telephone / mail preference )

Never ring back on the their message
1471 and then direct dial
Then ask for their compliance officer
If they are genuine that will get a proper answer
Tell whoever answers that it is causing you and your family distress

Ask for the following
1 Where did they get the information from
2 Who have they sold it on to
3 Ask that they suppress your details this prevents it being re entered

They are required by law to supply this information within 40 days

I have tracked down 24 companies that were doing the phoning supposedly legal
Experian was one but was the most helpful in advising how to remove yourself

There have been a few who tried to avoid their responsibilities but a quick email to them with threats to pass on a complaint to the ombudsman and media such as rip of Britain, Watchdog , local paper, social media, consumer association etc usually focuses their mind

You still get the odd cowboy but while they are dealing with me thay are not hassling others

The most surprising was that applying for a railcard some 5 years ago managed to get me on a list which was still being circulated
I also quite often put a rogue initial in my name when dealing with online purchases etc as this allows tracking/ awareness of misuse

There are some out there which are so clever that unless you are on your guard the get you

What do you do with the unsolicited mail shot. I normally write RTS ( return to sender ) gone away and put it in the postbox . If there is a reply paid envelope make sure you use that

Companies including BT sell/rent numbers to some companies . I have taken it up with them that they are responsible that the phone numbers are their responsibility and I give them the same request

There are of course the Im from microsoft - ok when are you returning my comuter that I sent in 10 days ago
Or you have had an accident thats right why hasnt the cheque arrived
A very loud thundered whistle can also come in useful

I do find these help
My sons have both worked for call centres and both have had upset clients etc but the good companies comply

I still will not buy BT however

8 users thanked andy mac for this post.
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Tony Peterson
Posted: 10 February 2017 18:27:09(UTC)

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The call should be reported to the Information Commissioner's Office. Even though they talk tough but seem to have achieved very little so far. Probably worth bringing to the attention of Paul Lewis on BBC Moneybox too.

It is yet another example of the incredible unwillingness of UK justice systems to tackle the plague of cold-calling fraudsters and ambulance chasers and other riff-raff who totally ignore the Telephone Preference Service lists. Indeed I have heard it claimed that going on the TPS list actually increases your chance of cold calls.

It is time the regulators, the phone companies (I think BT is trying a little - but not enough - I might go to the AGM), and the banks (more AGMs??) got a grip on this noxious problem. If you were organising a bit of fundraising for jihadi causes and giving bank details, and asking for explosive recipes, or targets you would be traced and rounded up quicksmart.

The banks who receive transfers on behalf of fraudsters should be held liable unless they can identify their temporary customers. Once identified prosecutions should follow quickly, with assets seized and returned to victims as has happened with a couple of boiler room scams.

Everything online is watched and can be traced. An Indian criminal called me this morning claiming I needed help with my Windows program. I don't use one. I know that every cold call I receive is from a criminal. By definition, in fact, since I am on the TPS list.

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Tony Peterson
Posted: 10 February 2017 18:37:09(UTC)

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andy mac

I'm interested in your comment about Experian.

I have already served notice on the two banks we have stakes in that I intend to ask, at their next AGM's this question

"Do you actually give, for nothing, your customer's confidential details to credit reference agencies outside the banking system, along with their transaction histories,or do you sell those details to them?"
4 users thanked Tony Peterson for this post.
andy mac on 10/02/2017(UTC), Alex Peard on 10/02/2017(UTC), Cyrus Zaydan on 10/02/2017(UTC), DGL on 11/02/2017(UTC)
Posted: 10 February 2017 19:03:11(UTC)

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If you area shareholder in a price comparison website eg moneysupermarket, it might be worth asking them if they sell on the details of proposers, who have had accidents, to claims companies who then "harass" the proposer to drum up personal injury claims!
Posted: 10 February 2017 19:31:24(UTC)

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HMRC would never call anybody "out of the blue"

Never panic , just put the phone down.
andy mac
Posted: 10 February 2017 19:35:15(UTC)

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Hi Tony

The backstory

I contacted a local company who sent me an invite to have a hearing test about 3 days after I had a test at the local hospital.I assumed that some at the hospital was providing my details
The firm said that they bought a list from a company
On contacting the supplying company it transpired the list could have been 3 or 4 years
They supplied the companies they bought information from
Two of them were negative but the third was experian
They went through the various procedures and it was then who said I should ask for my details to be suppressed as this prevents it being readded to lists.

It was them who identified that my information had almost certainly come from an application to buy a railcard a number of years before. This was probably before all the tick boxes at the end

As you will notice there are often 3 or 4 tick boxes now. With probably one having a double negative so by ticking all 3 you actually tick the double negative which they can use

Unbelievably I just had a call as typing from a recycle double glassing ( no number left)
I have 2 landlines one is only for broadband so when it rings or both ring at the same time I know exactly what to do

Neither number are listed , nor do we appear on the published electoral role. No social media is connected so it is often easy to track the rogue companies down

I currently have communications outstanding with Approved Green Energy aka Swiftgreen Energy Solutions aka Eco surveys. ( If anyone is near Halifax I can provide details of this company or what ever they call themselves this week)

Companies house shows Swift as being wound up

Mobile phone operators are very careless as I have challenge 2 of the majot ones. One was selling info on the other eventually found that their operation in India was not as secure as they thought

To make some money there was someone who registered a premium rate phone number and always asked the calling company to ring him back later on that number and he then made money out of the callers

The genuine companies take it seriously where as the cowboys disappear but there are loads of companies buying old or very old information from secondary suppliers

Will you be happy if they say they sell your details?

Similarly insurance companies use fraud as an excuse to pass your details onto others
It is not a level playing field few are working to protect the public

One charity that we made a small donation too then spent more money trying to get more out of me. End result was me telling that my next course of action would be and they have since stopped

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J Thomas
Posted: 10 February 2017 20:39:13(UTC)

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An update after doing a bit more research into this scam.
It actually originated in the US last year, with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) being named as the tax authorities who were bringing the lawsuits.
It is now an unwanted import into the UK with HMRC being used and named, and presumably it will be spreading worldwide with the appropriate host countries relevant tax authorities named.
In the US this scam has been very successful and profitable. The huge problem with tracking the criminals down is they change the landline numbers every few hours to avoid being traced.
These criminals are very clever, as well as being very evil.
The victims are simply shocked into releasing their bank details, almost as soon as they put the phone down they realise they have been conned, it is then of course too late,
I have emailed my MP about this scam, who assures me the matter will be looked into as a matter of urgency.
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Tony Peterson
Posted: 10 February 2017 20:46:19(UTC)

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How can, one wonders, the telecom companies not get a little suspicious about customers who change their landline numbers every few hours? And how is it possible to do this?
andy mac
Posted: 10 February 2017 22:00:42(UTC)

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my understanding there 2 different type of scamers going on here

you have scammers who generate a different number that they are allegedly ring from
the other is using a landline that exists which diverts to the hq so for instance the numer was 01xx 347465

The number was a local number so rather than ring an STD number I just called the local number ie 347465 and there i was speaking to this person in Halifax. Just tried it again and this time its approved energy solutions

It was via this that I was able to track a number to a line supplier

As you say Tony very little will happen with the cowboys.

I have joined the class claim against VW as my Golf 1.6TDI has had its update carried out.
Cheat device switched off or what ever

So where do ethics sit in this I will try and get the best deal
Cooks are going to charge 9% more on holidays allegedly, while paying their chairman how much as a bonus!
I got a price for a holiday with them, then tried Kuoni who price matched , then virgin holidays priced matched that then I got a better dear and they all said they would match that.
I told them all to take a hike and went with the fourth company who gave me their best price without seeing the other 3
Should we back the 3 large companies ( somebody must buy their holidays)

Moral indignation or maximising profits

Perhaps my moral standings are too high or should I just invest in those who rip people off to maximise my profits

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Tony Peterson on 10/02/2017(UTC)
Posted: 10 February 2017 22:22:20(UTC)

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The Information Commissioner is toothless when dealing with the black market for personal information. Anyone can register with the I.C. as a Credit Reference Agency and purchase Electoral Registration data from Local Authorities.

An F.O.I. request revealed that my L.A. sold my data to 2 companies who do not appear on the I.C. list of C.R.A.s (Name and Shame: Aristotle International & Crediva) and research into these companies reveals that at least one has Directors based in the US.

Once purchased, this information can be exported to countries outside the jurisdiction of the I.C. with no restriction.

A request to the I.C. to show ALL registered C.R.A.s was refused on the grounds that “it would be difficult to provide a comprehensive list as this may change”

The trade in personal information is a global business and the UK Government is unwilling to restrict it. In fact, it actually supports it: I complained to the Land Registry that publication of the price paid for my house was contrary to Article 8 (Right to Privacy) of the Human Rights Act but they played the “information beneficial to the economic well being of the country” card. Information beneficial to economic voyeurism more likely.

Your personal information is out there. There is nothing you can do to remove it or restrict its use. It is traded as a commodity and it will take a Herculean effort to persuade Government to impose largely ineffective restrictions.

Welcome to our Brave New World.
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Alan Selwood
Posted: 10 February 2017 23:22:51(UTC)

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If you are registered with the Telephone or Mailing Preference Services, you can reasonably safely assume that anyone who contacts you out of the blue by phone or mail is up to no good.

So the simple answer with them is to bin the mail or put down the phone.

When it comes to information that is sold on, I see no easy solution.
In an ideal world, those who con the public from offshore bases or by swift changes of company name or contact phone number should be shot, and volunteers who could show how they might achieve this should be employed and well-rewarded! ;)

Tug Boat
Posted: 11 February 2017 10:07:13(UTC)

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I have a talking phone.

When it rings it tells me the number.

If it begins 020 or is international, my phone says "international call", I don't answer it.

If I don't recognise the number I answer in French and keep in French until I know who it is.

Works for me and the French really winds up the con artists.

Sadly my fun and the calls have dried up.

Raj K
Posted: 11 February 2017 10:46:37(UTC)

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Tug Boat;43002 wrote:
I have a talking phone.

When it rings it tells me the number.

If it begins 020 or is international, my phone says "international call", I don't answer it.

If I don't recognise the number I answer in French and keep in French until I know who it is.

Works for me and the French really winds up the con artists.

Sadly my fun and the calls have dried up.

Lol do you consider London to be international as the numbers here historically began with 020?
Posted: 11 February 2017 11:04:42(UTC)

Joined: 27/06/2014(UTC)
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I had an email this week telling me I had almost £ 800.00 tax refund owing to me, I did not open it nor would I ever do just another scam.
David 111
Posted: 11 February 2017 11:49:44(UTC)

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The phone call I get most pleasure from now is the one (recorded message) which begins "Now that winter is here". I must get this at least once every fortnight. What tickles me so much about this one is that it continued all through last summer.
Posted: 11 February 2017 11:55:24(UTC)

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A simple

"You're after my money aren't you does the trick. "
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