Cybercrime team launched to tackle organised tax fraud

A new cybercrime team to tackle tax fraud by organised criminals more effectively has been launched by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Mar 22, 2012
By Paul Jacques
Picture: Centre for Justice Innovation

A new cybercrime team to tackle tax fraud by organised criminals more effectively has been launched by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The newly-created specialist cybercrime team will protect the Exchequer from attempted fraud by cyber criminals who are using increasingly sophisticated ways to target HMRC’s repayment systems. The team is designed to protect both HMRC and taxpayers from organised criminals and will build on HMRC’s existing cyber counter-fraud capability and existing investigation and intelligence work and is a key element of HMRC’s Cyber Crime and Security Strategy.

Technical experts, analysts and investigators will be using technology funded by the National Cyber Security Programme.

The new cyber team will provide HMRC with a better awareness of the nature of the threat by using specialist forensic tools to exploit intelligence. Giving expert advice on keeping services secure, the team will provide technical expertise to HMRC’s criminal investigators and present real-time intelligence to the operational risk and security teams.

David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, said: “As more and more of HMRC’s systems move online, cyber criminals will look to exploit any opportunity to attack the repayment system. In the past year alone, customers reported over 200,000 bogus emails purporting to come from HMRC and, as a result, HMRC shut down close to 1,000 bogus websites.”

The new team comes as a result of the Government’s £917 million spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011/12, which aims to raise an additional £7 billion each year by 2014/15, and funding from the national Cyber Security Programme.

As well as the creation of the specialist cybercrime team, HMRC will be deploying more technology to stop criminal behaviour in real-time.

Francis Maude, Minister for Cyber Security, said: “The Cyber Security Strategy set out the Government’s commitment to build a more trusted and resilient digital environment and protect the public from online fraud as we move more services online. This new unit will play a vital role in tackling online organised tax fraud and we have committed National Cyber Security Programme funding to it to ensure we are better prepared to deal with cyber threats and are better able to protect the public and businesses online.”

•Automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras and data held by the DVLA could soon be used to control petrol pumps.

Plans being discussed by the Government could see motorists with no tax or insurance automatically stopped from getting petrol.

ANPR cameras would be used to cross-reference numberplates against the DVLA database, which would show whether a vehicle does not have insurance or tax. This information would then be fed through to the fuel pumps, which would restrict a motorist’s fuel where necessary.

ANPR is already fitted in 80 per cent of forecourts. Cameras were originally installed to stop motorists driving off without paying for their fuel and new ‘prevention’ technology could easily be linked to the fuel pumps.

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