HMRC and the Tax Refund Email

I’m to receive a tax refund! Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has emailed me to say I’m eligible for a payment of £344.93! All they need is my credit or debit card details. It looks very efficient to me- there’s a Transaction Confirmation Number, an ID Number and an Issuing Number. I don’t know what any of these mean, but what does it matter? So long as I click on the link and give them my details, I’m 300 quid better off. Here’s the message:


                                This message may contain privileged and confidential information.

                                It is intended solely for the person to whom it is addressed.

                                Here's your HMRC Transaction Confirmation : 4C94A32DA2A2050FD8357A - (Please retain for your records)                             

                                You are eligible to receive a refund of up to 344.93 GBP.

                                We tried to send it to you automatically but we're unable to do so as we don't have your Credit/Debit Card details on file

                                {Ready to claim your refund now?}                             

                                -have your credit/debit card ready

                                -open the application in your browser and login to your Customer Portal account

                                -follow the instructions on your screen                             

                                Customer Portal - 


                                -  Issuing No: 22344882911797

                                -  Issuing date : Jan 19, 2017

                                -  ID Number : 533FABEA

                                -  Receiver : [...]

                                -  Payment method : Online by Credit/Debit Card                             

                                Note : A refund can be delayed a variety of reasons, for example submitting invalid records or applying after deadline..                                  

                                HM Office Gateway

Smart readers will have guessed it’s a scam. I’ve also altered the link so no-one can click on it and lose their life savings. Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Read the small print, look for deception. For emails like this, look at the way the weblinks finish and the email addresses end. It’s quite clear they’re fake.

Why would someone send out this email? They evidently don’t lack initiative, and they must possess some technical expertise. In fact, I’d say they must be pretty clever. It’s a wonder they just don’t go out and get a proper job like everyone else. I would suggest that this person or persons would prefer you to earn their money for them than they do it for themselves- it’s far easier that way.

Augustine, in his Confessions, recalled how as a young man he stole pears:

I wanted to commit my theft, and I did it compelled by neither want nor poverty but by a distaste of justice and a feast of iniquity. For I purloined that in which I abounded — and in much better! Nor did I wish to profit in this affair in which I was striving with theft, but only in the very theft and sin. There was a pear tree near our vineyard, weighed down with fruit alluring neither in appearance nor in flavour. To shake this tree and make off with its produce, we no-good youths made haste in the dark night when we had carried on our game in the streets according to our pestilential custom. And we carried off from there enormous loads of fruit not to to our meals but rather to cast before swine; even if we ate some, nevertheless it occurred that it was pleasing to us to do that which was not allowed.

Keep an eye on your pears and be careful about emailed promises that don’t exist. The prospect of a tax refund I don’t deserve fires up my in-built greed which dovetails nicely into others’ greed who would defraud me of that money.