A reminder that perpetrators of cyber-crime have not been furloughed…

There have been welcome reports of a drop in recorded crime during the Coronavirus pandemic. How could there not be, after all most of us are at home. However this article is to remind you that there are some that are taking advantage of the pandemic by creating opportunities for cyber-crime.

Most are aware of the government’s support schemes to help the employed and the self-employed. By essentially putting the tax system into reverse, we will see unprecedented levels of payments from HMRC into your bank accounts.

Just recently, I heard from a local Bank Relationship Manager that fraudsters are paying money into individual bank accounts with the description of HMRC. They are then contacting the individual to explain that this had been an error and to ask it to be repaid into the account number they provide. This money was never from HMRC and these transactions are money laundering pure and simple. By moving money through various accounts, it effectively “cleans” the money as it makes it impossible to trace the true source of the funds.

I have also heard that there are companies out there offering fake PPE and Coronavirus test kits.

You may receive a call from HMRC saying you owe money and they will take action against you if you do not pay. It is important you ascertain that this is a genuine call. At this present moment in time with the immense strain on HMRC, my first thought would be that it is probably a fake call. It is best to take the details of what tax is outstanding, what period it is for and how much it is. You can then contact your Accountant to check if the tax is owed or logon to HMRC online to check your balances.

There are plenty of scam emails doing the rounds at the moment and so please do not open any attachments from suspicious emails. Even if you know the sender, if the email is not expected or does not look right then it is best to check with the sender by phone before opening as they may have been subject to a malware attack.

Understandably, banks are monitoring accounts for suspicious activity and so if your business has taken a change in direction and your banking transactions may start to look out of character, I would advise you to contact your bank to let them know what has changed. The last thing you need at the moment is for your bank account to be frozen due to suspicious activity when you are simply running your business.

Life is certainly challenging at the moment. Let’s not add to the difficulties by being a victim of cyber-crime or fraud. If you need any assistance then please get in touch.

The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the Author and other professionals may express different views. They may not be the views of Lambert Chapman LLP. The material in the article cannot and should not be considered as exhaustive. Professional advice should be sought in connection with any of the issues contained in the article and the implementation of any actions.

Lambert Chapman Chartered Accountants

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