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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Cumbria firms warned about VAT registration letter scam

BUSINESSES are being warned against a scam that could cost them thousands.

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BOGUS Redhead and Co chartered accountants director Candy Henderson (right) and accountant Sharon Turner, with the letter asking for the firm’s VAT registration details JON GRANGER REF: 50044967B000

Candy Henderson, a director at Bryan Redhead and Co, in Broughton, has issued the warning after a scammer sent a letter asking for the firm’s VAT registration details.

The letter is sent out purporting to be from HMRC and is presented in a manner that even Mrs Henderson described as “convincing”.

On closer inspection the apparently innocent letter ties companies into a three-year contract charging £797 per year with a complicated exit clause that requires three months’ notice in the final year of the contract.

Any companies dragged into the scam could face a £2,391 bill over three years and a lengthy battle to get out of the contract.

Mrs Henderson has urged companies to phone HMRC should they have concerns, rather than be duped by the scam.

She said: “The letter is even printed on recycled paper, which is what the Revenue use. All the letter actually asks for is for your VAT registration number but when you sign it you’re actually tied into a contract.”

Mrs Henderson, a chartered accountant at Bryan Redhead, said the con artists were so crass they sent the documents to the firm, despite it being clearly listed as an accountancy firm.

In the past Mrs Henderson spent a year in a bid to get an elderly client out of a similar contract and has urged any businesses receiving the letter not to respond.

She added: “They are basically just taking money for nothing.

“The letter does look so official – it has all the company’s details on and it does seem like the real deal.”

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