Bank details being changed on HMRC portal in VAT scam

Bank details being changed on HMRC portal in VAT scam

May 16, 2024

Accountants at Price Bailey are warning companies to be extra vigilant as there has been a surge in fraudulent activity affecting VAT repayments from HMRC

Certain sectors are being especially targeted including businesses in food, farming, construction, and export-heavy organisations.

The recent cases involve the changing of bank account details on HMRC’s portal, with VAT repayments then diverted to a third-party.

Fraudsters are disguising themselves as taxpayers to alter bank account details on HMRC’s online portal.

HMRC is seeing an increase in fraudulent activity, according to information obtained by property VAT authors Martin Scammell and Chris Nyland.

HMRC is aware of the issue and is asking those affected to report the fraud, providing the reference of the affected VAT registration number.

In an attempt to stop the fraud, HMRC has also announced plans to withdraw the PDF version of form VAT484 – the form used to amend and update VAT details such as bank accounts.

Gary Frear, agriculture expert and partner at Price Bailey warned that the scam presents a real risk to the farming community.

‘Given that the majority of farming entities are receiving monthly or quarterly VAT refunds, it is essential for the cash flow of the farm to continue receiving these refunds without interruption,’ said Frear.

‘We are also now entering a period when farms are typically purchasing inputs like sprays and fertilisers and the refunds could be much larger.’

Greg Mayne, a VAT partner at Price Bailey, added: ‘HMRC are aware of the recent spike in fraudulent activity and are said to be dealing with these. They are also suggesting that larger businesses have been the primary target and are asking these organisations to confirm the authenticity of any account changes.

‘Despite this, we are hearing some smaller businesses have also been affected and so, for the time being, taxpayers submitting repayment claims must be especially vigilant and check that their bank account details have not changed.’