You might suppose that scammers might think twice about before sending off some misleading information to an accountant. However, we can report that their stupidity, not to mention dishonesty and, in some respects, ingenuity, knows no bounds.
The other day, M&S Accountancy and Taxation received a letter about a company we had just set up for a client. The company’s registered office address is c/o of ourselves, which is why we received it. The fact that it was a letter, and not one of the myriad phishing emails that plague everyone, made it look more official and, on the surface, legitimate.
Fortunately, we do spend some time researching this sort of thing (it can come in handy for our clients) and said letter was almost immediately identified as a fake.
Further digging showed that this particular scam is so well known that Companies House actually cite in on their website as an example of what the ordinary, law-abiding citizen/company owner is up against.
This particular letter (example attached) purports to come from an organisation called “Company Registry” and asks for payment to confirm company details and activate a secure vault.
Cunningly, the amount requested (in the letter we received, is only £47, which makes it seem like something you should just get on with as it’s hardly a bank-breaker. Nonetheless, it is a fraud and if you receive anything from “Company Register” then we reiterate the advice on the Companies House website, viz, “This is a scam - do not send any money to the bank account shown.”
Companies House in fact has a very useful page which details the more common scams, including letters that appear to come from their solicitors and ask for payment into a bank account to clear an outstanding invoice for ‘prior penalty negotiations’. Companies House does not issue these letters!
More commonly, you will receive letters and emails purporting to come from HMRC. Some of these are obviously fraudulent, but others are very professional scams. Our advice is never to act on what they are asking you to do, but instead let us know and we’ll advise you as to the correct course of action. Invariably, it’s to block the sender, bin the email and report it to HMRC but very occasionally it might be a legit request from the tax authority which you should not ignore. Either way, it only takes a few moments to alert us and we’ll do our best to help
Callum McKinnon, M&S Accountancy and Taxation Ltd