POLICE across the borough have warned residents about an ongoing HMRC phone scam where fraudsters persuade victims to buy £100 Amazon vouchers.
It was revealed today, October 29, that South Yorkshire Police’s fraud co-ordination team have received reports of people pretending to be from HMRC to take advantage of callers.
The calls start with the criminal saying that there has been a tax fraud allegation against the victim, and the victim has failed to respond to letters about it.
Then, they tell the victim there’s a warrant out for their arrest, and put them through to a ‘police officer’ who appears to be calling from a South Yorkshire Police phone number.
The victim is then told that HMRC is working in conjunction with Amazon and they must go to the post office to buy a number of £100 Amazon vouchers, then send the codes to the fraudster.
It is believed that the victims lose hundreds of pounds after sending the codes to the criminal.
PC Vicki Arrowsmith, from the force’s fraud co-ordination team, said: “These phone calls can be very distressing to receive, particularly if you are a vulnerable person - so it’s really important everybody spreads the message about these scams with their elderly or vulnerable loved ones.
“These fraudsters can be extremely convincing and I have no doubt it would frighten a lot of people if they thought there was a warrant out for their arrest.
“The scam appears even more legitimate when it looks like you are being called from a real South Yorkshire Police phone number.
“This trick is known as ‘spoofing’ - fraudsters can use technology to make it look like they are phoning from a known number.
“My main piece of advice is that if you are in any doubt at all, hang up, wait for 30 minutes and then contact HMRC, ideally from a different phone, on a trusted number to verify the authenticity.
“Genuine HMRC staff will never object to you making checks to ensure they are who they say they are.”
If you think you have been a victim of this scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or go online to www.actionfraud.police.uk.