Skip to main content

HMRC Hoaxes

20th February 2023

Scam of the month: As Tax Year Ends Metro Bank Issues Scam Warning

Metro Bank is warning consumers about the sharp rise in HMRC hoaxes and investment scams ahead of the current tax year ending on April 5th.

Impersonation scams are one of the biggest and most successful scams with £90.5 million lost in the first six months of 2022[1].  HMRC is often impersonated by fraudsters pressuring UK taxpayers to send money to pay an outstanding tax debt.  Consumers need to be aware that telephone numbers can be spoofed and that HMRC will never pressure anyone to make immediate payments. These type of scams are so common, the government has its own web page advising on how to identify tax scam calls, emails and texts, together with a list of genuine HMRC contacts.

Last year saw a 95% increase in investment scams losses to over £100 million (£107.7m) industry wide – this equates to 30% of all authorised push payments scams[2]. The three most common investment scams are impersonation of genuine investment companies – especially using celebrities, cryptocurrencies and precious gems or metals.  If in doubt consumers can check the validity of investment or pension opportunities on the FCA warning list, especially as the number of unregistered and unauthorised firms rose by 33% in the last 12 months.

 “The key to preventing both these types of scams is to take a few minutes to check you are dealing with a legitimate source and never be pressured to act quickly,” warns Metro Bank’s Head of Fraud & Investigations, Baz Thompson. “Avoid clicking on any advert you see on social media and be aware that most fraudsters want to make the offer seem appealing by offering great returns on your money quickly – both the rate and speed should make you suspicious and act with caution.  Sadly, consumers should also be aware that scammers can compromise the social media accounts of their friends and then make contact as if it was their friend making a recommendation. A good rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”

To help educate consumers, Metro Bank looks at how a classic investment scam works:

Emma wanted to invest her long term savings into an ISA for the new tax year. She wanted to find the best rate available and searched online for high-return ISA accounts.  After just a few clicks, she recognised the company at the top of the results and followed the link – they offered accounts with great but seemingly realistic interest rates.

Emma went ahead and signed up to enquire – that afternoon Emma received a call from a savings manager at the company who understood her needs and helped her to open a one year fixed term ISA. She was sent confirmation details and given access to her account the same day.

Once it was time for the ISA to mature Emma to begin to look in to her options. She tried contacting the company to collect her funds, only to find they had no accounts relating to her and she had no investments with them.

What happened?

Scammer creates fake websites and documents to lure you in - Emma hadn’t visited the genuine website or spoken to a genuine savings manager – it was a façade created by scammers to steal her money.

Baz Thompson concludes: “Fraud is the most common crime in the UK[3] and there are simply not enough resources to fight it.  Despite accounting for 40% of recorded crime, only 2% of police funding is dedicated to tackling fraud[4].  Consumers need to do more to protect themselves – so if you are being pressured to act quickly, or give money, please be aware that this is likely to be a scam. Stop, Challenge and Protect yourself from becoming a scam victim.”


[1] Source UK Finance

[2] Source UK Finance

[3] source National Crime Agency

[4] Source ABI