Police are warning the public of an ongoing tax scam targeting Derbyshire residents - with one victim conned out of £2,000.
In recent days there have been numerous reports of people being contacted by scammers posing as HMRC officials, Derbyshire police said.
The criminals say that the person could be arrested or prosecuted at court due to unpaid taxes. They are then told this can be avoided if they immediately pay the balance by bank transfer or by purchasing iTunes gift cards and giving the details over the phone to the scammers.
If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, bailiffs or in cases where the victim appears to be of overseas origin; deportation.
Often, but not always, the date from which the tax is owed is from such a long time ago that records may not be easily accessible.
Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact.
Recently in Derbyshire a victim paid out nearly £2,000 and other victims have previously been defrauded for similar amounts.
Fraud protect officer, Tammy Barnes, said: “Ahead of the self-assessment tax deadline on January 30 we have seen an increasing number of reports about this scam.
“HMRC officials will never contact you in this manner and will certainly never ask for a direct payment bank payment or by iTunes vouchers.
“Never feel pressured or rushed into making a decision and if you receive a call of this nature then hang up and report it immediately using the 101 number.
“I would also urge people to speak to anyone who they know may be filling out a self-assessment return in the coming weeks or may be particularly vulnerable due to their age or circumstances.”
If you are in doubt about a call you receive, call HMRC back from a different phone and if using a landline always listen for a dial tone before making a call. You can also contact Derbyshire Constabulary via social media accounts or calling 101.
If you receive a call of this nature report it to Action Fraud on Fraud 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.