VAT refund payments fraud: have you been affected?

Article by Bishop Fleming.

Bishop Fleming is a partner for Growth Forge 2024, a business acceleration programme for ambitious tech companies. Learn more here.

Be alert to a VAT fraud where bank account details are being changed. Have your VAT details with HMRC been amended, or have you not received an expected VAT refund?

HMRC has recently confirmed that there has been a spate of fraudulent changes to taxpayers’ bank account details, where fraudsters change VAT repayment traders’ bank details to their own account and then disappear with the refund payments from HMRC.

It is understood that where HMRC has identified these cases, they have been dealt with, but apparently the department had not considered it necessary to let the taxpayers know.

The fraud appeared to use falsified pdf ‘change of VAT details’ forms, and HMRC now plans to withdraw the pdf version of Form VAT484.

However, until they do, HMRC is asking large business ‘customers’ to confirm that any requested changes are genuine.

This assumes, as HMRC appear to believe, that the fraud has been specifically targeted at larger businesses, and that it has relied exclusively on the pdf form. 

However, we understand from other advisers that the majority of cases they’ve seen involved smaller businesses, many of whom have struggled to alert HMRC.

It seems that, even now, HMRC will not necessarily tell them if they identify what might be a fraudulent change of banking details.

Take action

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if HMRC has yet been wholly successful in closing the fraud down, so we suggest that taxpayers and advisers continue to be vigilant and check their VAT details are correct.

In particular, if you have received a letter from HMRC to say that your (unspecified) details have been amended, or if you have not received an expected VAT refund, please do check your bank details on the government gateway are still correct.

Contact us

Please speak to your usual Bishop Fleming contact if you would like to discuss this matter, or need our assistance.

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