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Passing off What to do??

Passing off What to do??

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Client mainly works for commercial concerns, but has a website indicating private work is also done. He has been aware that for the last few years "X" has been passing himself off as working for client's company, as he occasionally gets calls from people who've had work done by X but who think that he works for my client's company. 
He's recently had his website hacked, possibly by X, but the more I think of it there might be a completely unconnected crook involved. I've introduced client to IT person to sort that out.

This morning he received a letter from HMRC about "your recent VAT application" stating the application letter had not been signed by an authorised person. Client's company has been reg for VAT for about 3 years so this looks odd. I will attempt to discuss with HMRC but doubt I will get anywhere with finding out who sent the letter. I now think this is probably someone else trying to get a VAT regn so that he can defraud HMRC by doing a dodgy VAT refund stunt. That would be the only benefit of being VAT registered to a fraudster. Would you agree?

I've just looked at Cos House, and there is no filing apart from what I've done. I will call Cos House to see if they can advise anything in case someone attempts to change the records fraudulently.

Client has a rough idea of X's name but no other information. I suggested going to the Police, but he thinks they wouldn't be interested.

Have you seen this sort of thing before? Is there something else I or client should be thinking about?

Replies (6)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
22nd Aug 2016 16:57

I think all you need do is write back formally to HMRC in answer to their question (the clearly think something is up in the first place) to make them aware of the second company 'passing off', without directly making allegations against the third party.

I agree the police wont care, as no crime has been committed and they dont tend to give a stuff about fraud, and even less attempted fraud.

Thanks (2)
By Moonbeam
22nd Aug 2016 17:26

Update - I have just realised the "application" referred to is a VAT484 I sent to HMRC changing client's address. Although I'm the VAT agent it seems I am not suitably authorised, so will have to get client to do.

So maybe we just have a case of the usual hackers getting into client's website and a separate local nonentity trying to abuse client's good name.

Thanks (0)
David Winch
By David Winch
22nd Aug 2016 17:34

Presumably you are aware of Companies House 'PROOF' scheme?

https://ewf.companieshouse.gov.uk/help/en/stdwf/faqHelp.html#proofScheme

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Replying to davidwinch:
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By keithas
26th Aug 2016 12:17

Yes, I learnt about this the hard way when a disgruntled ex-committee member of a Company Limited by Guarantee made himself a Director by fraudulently signing himself as an "Authorised Person" on form AP01.
When Companies House was contacted they stated that they do no checks on these forms, even though the simplest of checks would have shown that, as sole Director, no one but myself was authorised.

Thanks (1)
Big Daddy's Diner
By mookgirluk
24th Aug 2016 11:47

Companies House also have a free of charge tracking service to let you know when something is filed against a company.
https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company

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Replying to mookgirluk:
By Moonbeam
24th Aug 2016 12:23

I remember using this service several years ago when I was closing down a company. Thank you for reminding me. I think that's going to be very useful to set up for this client.

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