Tax bill fraudsters pretending to be cops

Two scam calls were made to residents in Sunderland within the space of a few minutes.
Two scam calls were made to residents in Sunderland within the space of a few minutes.

Fraudsters are conning people out of thousands pretending to be from Derbysire Police in a telephone tax bill scam.

Police are issuing a warning after an old Derbyshire Constabulary phone number has been used in a long-running HMRC scam.

The victim, who handed over nearly eight thousand pounds in the scam, was contacted by someone claiming to be an officer from Derbyshire police.

He was told that there was an unpaid tax bill in his name and that, if he did not pay, he would be arrested.

The number that appeared on the victims’ phone was 0345 123 33 33 – a non-emergency number that is used by Derbyshire police.

He was also contacted by a scammer using the number 0300 200 3310, a helpline for HMRC.

Derbyshire police’s Fraud Protect Officer, Tammy Barnes, said: “This is a worrying development in a long-running national scam and something that we as a force are taking very seriously.

“This victim handed over nearly £8,000 and it could have been much worse had it not been for bank staff realising that something was amiss.

“The spoofing of phone numbers, where the number that fraudsters are ringing from is disguised as a legitimate number, is particularly devious.

However, there are a number of simple ways to make sure you don’t become a victim.”

“Firstly, be aware that a police officer will never contact you over the phone regarding an unpaid tax bill.

“If an officer does contact you it will not show as the 0345 number.

“Make sure you keep this in mind and tell other family members and friends, particularly those who may be vulnerable to this type of crime, about this.

“Secondly, if you do receive a call out of the blue, then make sure you take the details of the officer, including their name and collar number (the unique number each officer is given).

“Then, wait until you hear the dial tone on your phone, and call the non-emergency 101 number and ask to speak to the officer whose details you have taken.

“Do not do anything until you have spoken to the officer and explain to the call handler the reason for your call.

“Thirdly, do not be pressured. Fraudsters will create a feeling of crisis, however, do not get caught up in it and make sure, if you feel concerned by a call of this nature, that you contact us on the 101 number.

“If you are concerned about calls you are receiving you should hang up, make sure you can hear a dial tone and then ring 101.”