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SEISS scam dupes traders with fake HMRC email

Taxpayers should be warned of a new phishing scam landing in inboxes as the fourth self-employed income support scheme grant is now open for claims. 

29th Apr 2021
Editor AccountingWEB
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To the untrained eye, the official-looking Gov.uk logo, typeface and format is convincing enough to fool a self-employed trader to hand over their details in return for an SEISS grant. But this is a new phishing scam that’s masquerading as an SEISS notification to trip-up desperate traders eagerly awaiting the latest grant. 

What does the email say?

The email with the subject line ‘HMRC SEISS Tax Refund Notification’ alerts the recipient that claims for the SEISS grant have now opened for application and directs them to sign in to ‘HMRC online services’. 

As reported on AccountingWEB, the window to claim the fourth grant will open in “late April”. However, the scam email states “the date for submitting application  for the Fourth SEISS grant start 22 April 2021 (sic)”.

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Replies (19)

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By Paul Crowley
29th Apr 2021 18:27

The issue is that HMRC keep sending out scam type requests asking for ID and bank statements by all communication devices making this just so easy.
Self destruct drop box and special 'secret' addresses
Sent by email, text, mobile, planes, trains and automobiles
It would be reasonable to consider that the last year HMRC have failed miserably in their duty of care.
I would love to see a class action by all people defrauded against HMRC

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By New To Accountancy
30th Apr 2021 09:57

I remember you saying this would happen.

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By Duggimon
30th Apr 2021 09:57

It would help us all if HMRC's genuine emails could look less like scams themselves. They haven't stooped so low as to start putting in grammatical or spelling errors, but they're so confusingly devoid of anything useful that they really come across as rather dubious.

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Keep Calm, I'm and Accountant!
By i-accounts
30th Apr 2021 10:04

I had a call from a client yesterday who logged in to claim her grant only to find it had already been claimed, further investigation revealed that the payment was being sent to a Barclays account, she has never held an account with Barclays and she had difficulty getting through security with HMRC on the phone as her tax agent didn’t match, she immediately called me and she had vanished from my client list within self assessment! We are absolutely baffled as are HMRC as to how this has happened

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Replying to i-accounts:
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By Paul Crowley
01st May 2021 18:40

Sounds like GG hacked
From there proper agent can be dismissed and claim made.
But none of this will ever come to light and confirmed by HMRC as HMRC want to believe that GGs are the holy grail.
This really would be a useful thread in Any questions to see if any others have come across it
Or even PM one of the Aweb writers, (notice avoided the word hack, Aweb trumps tabloids)

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Cazzie B
12th May 2021 12:53

Letter sent to HMRC Complaints

Our clients’ on-line account was hacked on 12th October and £36K was stolen. We informed HMRC on 19th October, as soon as we became aware. We also called On-Line services and asked them to put a stop on the account.

We noticed on 5th November that details had been changed on our clients account, email address and mobile phone (1). We changed the information back (2) and called online services, we were given a call reference and password (1) and was told they had put a block on the account, (we thought that was done on 19th October).

Our client then called HMRC on-line services to see if he could close the account down, (we had given him password and reference). To his horror, he was told he had recently called to get access to his account. It seems that the hacker had called HMRC on-line services, failed security twice before passing on the third attempt. How did he pass when there was a block on the account, with a reference and password? We logged on to find out he had changed the details back (3).

After no calls being returned, despite promises from HMRC that we would get a call back, we decided to raise it as a AAMissue on 12th November (4). Despite AAMissue usually helping to sort things, on this occasion, they did not seem to be able to help, even though we chased several times (5 & 6).

We complained via the agent self-assessment phone line in December and promised yet more call backs that never happened. We also posted on the HMRC forums on 23rd December (7), but got no feed back

Finally, during a call in January, we were told that the account had been closed, then on 13th January we received a letter to say the account had been closed and the fraud had nothing to do with their systems or security. Maybe not the original fraud but their failure in security let the hacker back in where he had started to amend the Return. It was by sheer luck that our client called HMRC shortly after him, realised what had happened and manged to stop him taking any more money.

A quick phone call as soon as this happen to inform us of the way it would be handled would have prevented so much frustration. However, if we had thought that HMRC was sorting then the hacker would have got away with more, as we would not have known he used the on-line services to get access, even though we had a call ref and password, which he didn’t need to give.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By rockallj
13th May 2021 09:49

Yes had something similar to this with client GG hacked.

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Replying to i-accounts:
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By johnjenkins
13th May 2021 10:00

I've been thinking about these and other scams. It has to be an inside job. If we tried to do anything like that we would be found out immediately so there has to be someone or many in the finance and HMRC community that are either doing it or aiding. Just think what will happen when MTD really gets up and running. It wouldn't surprise me if these systems don't even need to be hacked, they have a back door. Bordering on science fiction maybe but if someone can think of it then it's only a matter of time before it becomes real. Technology wise we are in for some exciting yet worrying times.
One example is goal line technology. From what I hear not too difficult to hack into and alter the position of the ball.

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By Richardrussell
30th Apr 2021 10:06

"the tell-tale sign that this is a scam is the reference to the grant as a tax refund"

Oh you really give our clients too much credit.

As far as they're concerned, they're getting money from the taxman. End of.

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Replying to Richardrussell:
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By Paul Crowley
01st May 2021 18:43

Said exactly the same when discussing with partner
Our clients are not that technical and it is money from HMRC

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By RetiredTax
30th Apr 2021 10:19

£75000. ???
Really?

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Replying to RetiredTax:
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By johnjenkins
30th Apr 2021 11:02

The comma was in the right place, just an extra 0.

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By Ben Alligin
30th Apr 2021 10:44

By way of light relief, I received a scam call yesterday purporting to be from HMRC. I apparently owed HMRC some tax and if I didn't press "1" and give the caller all my bank details and transfer the 'outstanding tax due' immediately, HMRC would issue a warrant for my immediate arrest at the end of the call.

The thought of HMRC doing anything immediately had me chuckling all morning. These scammers sadly have no experience of dealing with HMRC!!

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Replying to Ben Alligin:
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By johnjenkins
30th Apr 2021 11:07

The problem is they are learning and fine tuning all the time. the more high tech we have the worst this will get because you will get to a digital stage where many people will not understand the format or methods. I presume the authorities aren't too bothered because it's Joe Bloggs who is losing money not the financial institutions.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
By coops456
30th Apr 2021 12:28

I hope you are wrong (but fear you are right).

This last couple of weeks we've experienced a real upswing in the number of scam calls and texts, from HMRC issuing a warrant for your arrest, to Amazon Prime expiring, to your broadband being cutoff, to DHL/DPD/whoever is delivering a parcel and you can track it here.

The fraudsters only need a tiny proportion of people to fall for these things.

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Replying to coops456:
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By johnjenkins
30th Apr 2021 13:32

This is not just the UK, it's world wide, so think of the money these scammers are getting. You would also think that the authorities would set up a world police network to deal with these things.

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By AndrewV12
30th Apr 2021 12:03

Going forward the temptation is to say ignore most emails, but emails are now more used than letters, its a nightmare.

Regards
Andrew

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Replying to AndrewV12:
Keep Calm, I'm and Accountant!
By i-accounts
30th Apr 2021 16:56

Sadly the post is equally as likely to contain a scam letter, I have been recieving a steadily increasing bill from FedEx via post for the past few months, it started as £31.76 and has risen a little each time, the most recent is £41.22

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Replying to i-accounts:
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By Hugo Fair
30th Apr 2021 18:58

That sounds horribly as though it's real (increases due to interest being applied) ... not of course 'real' as in valid, but as in being issued by who it says it is from.
FedEx can be almost as bad as ADT (the alarm people who in my experience are the worst in the world at this) at being unable to convince their own systems to cancel an invoice ... even when you have confirmation in writing from senior management.
Artificial Intelligence may still be far in the future, but some companies' billing systems appear to have evolved Artificial Perseverance!

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