2000 staff and 200 Bristol students affected by HMRC scam emails

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By Lucy Downer, Deputy News Editor

The scam emails claim to be from HMRC, offering the recipients a refund.

University students and staff are being targeted in a new email scam, where fraudulent emails are being sent claiming to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), that state a student is eligible for a refund.

In a bid to steal students banking and personal details, the fraudsters are using .ac.uk email addresses that may easily be mistaken for genuine university emails.

Fraudsters send a message, complete with HMRC, Gov.uk or credit card branding, stating that a student is entitled to a tax refund, the email may also include the recipient’s name and email address.

Thousands of students across the UK have been affected, and after an investigation Epigram can reveal that 200 Bristol students have been targeted, and around 2000 staff.

In an email sent out to all students at the university, Matt Osborn from the University’s IT services stated: ‘we have been able to react quickly by blocking access to websites that support these scams and removing emails from inboxes.'

'Doing this dramatically reduces the effectiveness of these scams, but all members of the University need to be aware of the dangers to help minimize the impact.’

‘In total we believe around 200 students received this message but most of those held dual status of being both staff and student.’

‘Members of the University need to remain vigilant against these attacks. For information on how to identify and deal with phishing emails please see our Information page on the subject:http://www.bristol.ac.uk/infosec/protectyou/idtheft/phishing/’

‘If you feel you may have been a victim of one of these emails, please contact the IT Service Desk via email at service-desk@bristol.ac.uk or phone on 0117 428 2100.’

The HMRC have said that this is the first time it has seen a tax-scam directly targeted at university students on such a scale.

Bristol has been called upon by HMRC as one of 16 particular universities in the UK who need to raise awareness of the dangers of the new scam. It believes cases of students becoming victims of the scam are under-reported.

HMRC has stated that it will never use email, text or voicemail as a method of communication for legitimate refunds.

Anyone who thinks they are being targeted should avoid clicking on any links in the email, and should report the incident to Bristol’s IT services, or the HMRC.

Featured image: Unsplash / Sergey Zolkin


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