HMRC wins bogus tax rebate convictions
A big recent conviction showed HMRC making headway against the surge of bogus tax rebate claims that have plagued the self assessment system in recent years.
In Southampton, four Eastern Europeans were convicted and sentenced to 22.5 years between them after filing around 1,300 false SA returns claiming rebates worth £2m.
The Guardian, meanwhile, reported the arrest last Saturday of a 35-year-old Bologna resident and a companion at Stansted airport. Three other people were arrested in London and Chatham and released on bail. The suspects were allegedly part of a gang that stole the identities of 700 British citizens in an attempted tax fraud worth around £500,000.
While HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation Andrew Sackey claimed HMRC's online systems were extremely resilient to these attacks, the Italian police were not as confident. “We have not seen this kind of fraud in Italy because this kind of operation remains more paper-based,” an Italian official said.
AccountingWEB members have reported several such identity thefts - and some have been the victims themselves as fraudsters gained access to their online HMRC agent accounts.
If you have suspicions about tax fraud of any kind HMRC advises using its online reporting mechanism.