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Alert over tax rebate phishing scam

Taxpayers have been warned to be on their guard against a phishing scam that offers the promise of a tax rebate.

A spam email directs recipients to a web page that appears identical to the HM Revenue and Customs site with the inducement of a substantial tax refund.

The fake page is particularly misleading since it uses the same graphics and stylesheets as the actual HMRC site.

However, the site, which is hosted in Denmark, is a scam, the aim being to secure the name, address and credit card details of users.

After users have submitted the information to the fraudsters, they are then redirected to the genuine HMRC site.

The scam has been exploiting the upcoming 31 January filing date for self assessment tax returns.

Addresses used to distribute the tax rebate emails include:

notify2@hrms.co.uk
refundtax@hmrc.gov.co.uk
TaxRefund@hmrc.gov.uk
service@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
claims@hmrc.direct.gov.uk
notice@hmrc.gov.uk
hmrc@hmrc.gov.uk
admin@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
info@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
no-reply@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “The email is a sophisticated attempt at internet fraud. We are liaising closely with those agencies working to close down and prosecute those behind these scams.”

Lesley Strathie, HMRC chief executive, added: "This is the most sophisticated and prolific phishing scam that we have encountered. We only ever contact customers who are due a refund in writing by post. We never use e-mails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances."

Anyone who believes they have been sent a phishing email with a link to the fake site is being encouraged to report it to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk