Manchester millionaire businessman and independent financial adviser Rod Bond foiled a sophisticated HMRC tax scam. After discovering trends in dubious correspondence, purportedly from the HMRC, Rod Bond leapt in to a self-funded million-pound investigation. Numerous clients reported to Rod Bond that they had received direct communications from the HMRC. Some clients reported to have been contacted by official HMRC phone numbers. Other clients were contacted by email, from official HMRC email addresses, verified by independent financial adviser Rod Bond. While others, in unprecedented steps taken by tax scammers, contacted their victims on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. “The scale of the tax scam was staggering.
All the correspondence from the HMRC seemed completely legitimate,” asserted Rod Bond, “I was worried myself.” In messages to their would-be victims, tax scammers purporting to be HMRC officials, used sophisticated social engineering methods. The scam promised tax rebates, tax refunds and tax relief credits, in exchange for personal details and small payments. The sophisticated social engineering methods that the scammers employed used the allure of rebates to target less affluent victims. The more affluent victims were targeted for small payments, to be made as part of a processing fee to secure tax rebates and refunds. Specialising in the independent financial advice sector for several decades, Rod Bond was quick to suspect the tax scam and identify the dodgy HMRC correspondence. “I won’t lie, it had me going for a while, but the HMRC don’t just hand out money. That’s what gave them away,” said Rod Bond.
Every year, as the financial year draws to a close in March, tax scammers posing as HMRC officials increase their operations. In recent years the HMRC has published extensive guidance on how people can protect themselves from tax scams.