Phishers hook victims with rebait
The UK is being targeted by thousands of phishing emails trying to reel in victims with promises of a tax refund.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) warned that fraudsters are flooding the UK with emails pretending to be from the taxman in the run up to the 31 January deadline for filing tax returns online.
HMRC said it had received 11,000 scam emails since April last year and warned of a second wave of emails after the deadline passes, when people are waiting to hear about genuine tax rebates.
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The fake emails link to a clone of the HMRC website run by the fraudsters, where victims are asked to fill in their bank or credit card details to enable payment of the fictitious refund.
The details are then used to steal from the account and are often sold on to other criminal gangs on the online black market, the HMRC warned.
Lesley Strathie, HMRC chief executive, said in a statement: "This is the most sophisticated and prolific phishing scam that we have encountered."
She added that the HMRC only ever contacts customers who are due a refund in writing by post and that it never uses emails, telephone calls or external companies.
Any suspicious emails should be sent to the HMRC for investigation at email@example.com.