Scammers are asking users on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter and other social media platforms to “borrow” their identities with the promise of a “risk-free” tax refund in return.
People from teenagers to pensioners have been approached by criminals seeking to use their details with the aim of committing fraud.
Popular social media sites have been targeted by the fraudsters looking to obtain Government Gateway logins and other personal details which enables them to register for Income Tax Self Assessment and submit bogus tax refund claims before pocketing the repayment.
The individual is promised a cut of the tax refund “risk-free” in return for the details.
But instead they will be left to pay back the full value of the fraudulent claim.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)has issued a warning to customers urging them to “think very carefully” if something seems too good to be true.
Anyone who thinks they have shared personal information online has been told to contact their bank immediately.
Customers should only deal with HMRC directly or through their tax advisor in relation to their Self Assessment tax refunds, the Government body said.
Simon Cubitt, head of cybercrime at HMRC, said: “People need to think extremely carefully before they involve themselves in an arrangement like this, because if something looks too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.
“Those who get involved risk becoming the victim of blackmail, threats of violence and wider abuse of their personal information, as criminals seek to exploit them further.
“I urge anyone who may be aware of these dishonest attempts to recruit individuals into criminality, to report it us by searching ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on GOV.UK and completing our online form.”
Reacting to the warning Bradley Post, CEO of RIFT Tax Refunds, said: “There seems to be no limit to the lengths that scammers will go to defraud the hardworking public of their money and the latest ruse is to adopt a person’s HMRC credentials and to purport to be that person when filing for tax refunds.
“Tax refunds themselves are a little known, largely untapped source of annual finance and those working within construction, training and energy sectors, as well as the military, are often the most frequently owed a refund by HMRC due to the fact they work from temporary or numerous locations on a regular basis.
“Perhaps it is the general failure to claim these refunds that has caught the attention of fraudsters who see them as easy money should they be able to access the required details to submit one.
“As with any process, particularly one involving your financial welfare, ensure that the company you are dealing with is legitimate and should anyone ask for payment or personal details upfront or via platforms such as social media, cease communication with them immediately.”