Business Personal Finance

Tuesday 16 July 2019

'I felt like a complete spanner over €4,500' - young woman taken in by fake Revenue text

Scammers claiming to be Revenue are texting unsuspecting people and stealing their bank details

Stock photo
Stock photo

Áine Kenny

A YOUNG woman has revealed how she almost lost €4,500 in an internet Revenue scam after she provided her details while thinking she was dealing with the taxman.

The young woman, who works in the fashion industry, was among a number of people on social media who said they had received texts from a source purporting to be Revenue.

Unfortunately, in her case, the amount mentioned by the scammers was similar to a tax refund the young woman was expecting to recieve.

She was set to lose almost €4,500 when her bank stepped in to stop the transaction.

The text states that a tax refund of a specific amount of money is "now available", and directs the unsuspecting receiver to a website.

The website looks very similar to Revenue's real website, and the unwitting individuals are then asked to provide their bank details in order to receive their refund.

The bogus text claiming to be from Revenue.
The bogus text claiming to be from Revenue.
The fake Revenue website.
The fake Revenue website claiming that the refund is on its way.

The young woman said she wishes to remain anonymous while the issue gets sorted, and that she feels "silly" and embarrassed now for falling for the scam.

"I received a text and because the amount quoted was close to the real amount I was due back, I assumed it was legitimate," she told Independent.ie.

"I am so used to getting texts from organisations now, like even the Mater Hospital, they don't send out letters anymore. I clicked the link in the text, and it brought me to a website that looked like Revenue's."

The woman said that, in retrospect, the website looked "slightly dodgy", but because she was due a refund anyway she didn't suspect anything was wrong.

The scam is relatively sophisticated. Those behind it have knowledge of Irish banks and there were no tell-tale grammar or spelling mistakes on the site.

"On the screen it said 'your tax refund is ready', and to enter in your bank details. There was even a list of Irish banks to choose from," the scam victim added.

"I was brought straight to what looked like my bank's page. Looking back I can't believe I fell for it. They asked for the numbers on the back of my card and my password for online banking. I stupidly gave it to them."

The woman then received a text from her bank. alerting her to the fact money was about to be transferred out of her account. "They said if this is incorrect, ring this number. I just thought it was a mistake because I was supposed to be getting money transferred into my account, not out."

The bank's fraud team rang her an hour later and said they had intercepted the transfer from going into a Romanian bank account. "I felt like a complete spanner. Usually I would never give my details, but it was the fact that I was due a refund anyway," she said.

The bank managed to prevent the fraudsters from getting the money, but had to lock down this woman's bank account to do so.

Her accounts are now frozen for five to seven days. "I went into the bank there, but I can't access my money until this is sorted. Luckily I have good friends,"she laughed.

"It's such a nightmare, but at least all the funds are still there."

Peadar Ó Lamhna, Revenue's Press Officer, said that scams such as these are not uncommon.

"Revenue regularly posts warning messages [about scams] on our website to alert customers."

Mr Ó Lamhna says that Revenue will never email or text customers about providing bank details.

"Pages on our website, www.revenue.ie, which request personal information are encrypted. After login, the taxpayer can verify that the page is secure by looking for a padlock icon in their browser," he told Independent.ie.

Customers should never send personal information by email, according to Revenue. Instead they should use Revenue’s secure online enquiry facility, MyEnquiries.

People who are waiting on a tax refund should contact their local Revenue Office to check its status.

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