Don’t be taken in by fake HMRC phone calls, say Sidmouth police
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Police are warning local businesses not to be taken in by phone calls from bogus HMRC officers claiming they are in trouble for underpayment of tax.
Sidmouth businessman Steve Marriott, who runs the Sidsoft computer shop in Church Street, is the latest to report a scam call.
On Friday, February 21, he said he was phoned by a man saying he was an HMRC officer and claiming that Mr Marriott was about to be arrested for under-payment of tax.
"He said the police were ready to come and raid my premises and take all my tax accounts for the last 20 years," he said.
"He was obviously not aware that we only have to keep them for seven years.
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"In the end he said I had two options, 'let the police arrest you or you can deal with me, and with a small payment we can sort this out'."
Mr Marriott said he knew the call was a scam from the start, but kept the caller talking to get as much information as possible so that he could warn other businesses about the tactics used.
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Sidmouth police neighbourhood beat manager Steve Lee said phone fraudsters often claim to be from the HMRC and should not be believed.
"The HMRC don't do that, they'll always send letters and make more official approaches, they're not going to ring you up," he said.
He advised anyone receiving such a call to report it to the police or to Action Fraud, who keep a central database of reported scams and try to trace the culprits.
Action Fraud can be contacted via their website or by phone on 0300 123 2040.