This email, which purports to be from the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), claims that your automatic tax refund payment didn’t go through. It urges you to open an attached file and follow the instructions to claim your refund.
However, the email is not from HMRC and the attached file does not contain legitimate tax information.
Instead, the email is a phishing scam designed to steal your personal and financial information.
The text of the initial scam email:
Subject: Order Acknowledgement -> ‘Your automatic payment didn’t go through’ KKJYER5253871366
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has received your claim for a tax refund.
Your reference is 4HQQ FHHI WLSC 1Y7Z.
If you are entitled to a refund you’ll get a revised tax calculation and what you’re owed.
If you’re not entitled to a refund you’ll be told the reason why.
For your security Your transaction details are attached on email , please find and open the pdf file and follow the instruction
You’ll normally receive a response within 15 days.
HM Revenue and Customs
Here’s a screenshot of the attached PDF:
If you click the link in the PDF, you will be taken to a bogus website that has been built to mirror the appearance of genuine HMRC web pages. The website takes you through a series of pages that ask for your personal and financial details, ostensibly so that your tax refund can be processed. The fake web pages look quite professional and include the Gov.UK logo.
Screenshot of the first scam web page:
Screenshot of the second scam web page:
Screenshot of the third scam web page:
Screenshot of the fourth scam web page:
At this point, you will be automatically redirected to the genuine HMRC website.
Meanwhile, the criminals can collect all of the data you provided and use it to commit credit fraud and identity theft.
Tax-refund scams are very common and target taxpayers not only in the UK, but also in the US, Australia, Canada, and many other countries as well. Be wary of any message that claims that you are eligible for a tax refund and should click a link or open an attached file to apply for the supposed refund.
If you receive such a message, do not click any links or open any attachments that it contains. Keep in mind that the tax department in your country is very unlikely to send you such a message.
HMRC has information about recognizing and reporting such phishing scams on its website.