We’ve been made aware of a new scam by some of our eagle-eyed account managers, who have received several suspicious letters intended for our clients. These letters originate from a firm called Intracom VAT Registry in Belgium, and are requesting registration for EU VAT for the princely sum of £320.
Unlike the somewhat ham-fisted HMRC email scams we’ve seen in the past, this scam is actually rather sophisticated – the target receives a very official-looking letter with tear-off edges (similar to tamper-proof pay packets large companies issue to employees) sporting their company number and registered address, which directs them to a website where they must enter their “Confidential access code”.
Once the code is entered the user is taken to a payment page that is similarly official-looking, but of course lacks all the usual bells and whistles you would expect from a legitimate website (Verisign certification, contact information etc.).
It is important to remember that all company numbers and registered addresses are publicly available from Companies House – these letters could be coming from literally anywhere. As our clients’ registered office is usually Crunch, we’ve been receiving these scam letters (about twenty so far). They appear to be focusing on newly formed companies – most likely trying to catch out new business owners who are still a little wet behind the ears.
A quick investigation into the company website (http://vat.euin.eu – click at your peril) shows the registrar as one Mustafa Akharraz, with a fake email address, fax number, and a (presumably also fake) phone number from Morocco. The URL was also registered less than three months ago.
The company itself, Euro Intracom, is registered to a PO Box in the Seychelles (here, to be precise).
As we said, this is a pretty sophisticated scam – so business owners who are their own registered office need to be extra cautious. Our team have spoken with HMRC who are aware of the problem and are attempting to deal with it as best they can.
If you are a Crunch client and have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your account manager