Tax scammers’ blitz on Derry

Phone scamers have been targetting Derry this week (file pic)
Phone scamers have been targetting Derry this week (file pic)

Fraudsters have launched a blitz on Derry this week in a co-ordinated bid to extract money from people by threatening them with legal action.

Several local people contacted the ‘Journal’ earlier this week about the scam which involves ‘cold calls’ to landlines from people claiming to be from HMRC Customs & Excise.

HMRC said it was aware that people have been impersonating HMRC staff on the telephone.

Gerry Murray (83) from the Abercorn Road area said he contacted relatives after receiving one such call and the family figured out this was a scam.

Mr Murray said: “I got a call saying they were from HMRC and that I owed them £3,000 income tax. It is frightening to think people are doing this. I would hate for someone to get caught by them.

“I was speaking to a friend of mine and he also got a call this morning and one last night.

“My daughter said to me, if the customs people wanted to contact you they would have sent you a letter.”

Another man, whose elderly mother-in-law was also contacted at her home in the Waterside this week, said: “I think it is important to warn people about this. There are people of an elderly age and people living on their own who might worry. We are okay, as we are able to answer the phone for her but others might be caught out,” he said.

A HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC takes security extremely seriously. We are aware that some people have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from HMRC.

“We have a well-known brand, which criminals abuse, to add credibility to their scams. We recommend that if you cannot verify the identity of a caller that you do not speak to them.

“We encourage you to check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams, recognise genuine HMRC contact and make payments to HMRC.”