FIVE MEMBERS of a suspected organised criminal gang have been arrested after allegedly launching what HMRC described as a “cyber attack” against the department over a £500,000 tax fraud.
The group is believed to have illegally obtained personal information from third parties in order to set up false self-assessment accounts with HMRC, stretching as far back as the Jubilee bank holiday weekend of 2012, with the intention of generating fraudulent tax rebates.
One man was arrested on 24 August at Stansted airport as he disembarked a flight from Italy after HMRC investigators worked with their Italian counterparts responsible for investigating cybercrime.
A further four men were arrested in London, at Stansted airport and in Chatham, together with simultaneous searches in London, Chatham, and Italy. They have been released on bail, pending further enquiries.
HMRC criminal investigations assistant director Andrew Sackey said: “HMRC’s online systems proved extremely resilient to these attacks – they correctly identified and prevented the vast majority of false repayment attempts from the outset.
“These arrests clearly demonstrate that we can, and will, apprehend those suspected of attempting to cheat UK taxpayers by defrauding HMRC, with international assistance if necessary.”
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