Suspected HMRC-branded phishing scams grew by 87% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to official figures obtained by accountancy group Lanop Outsourcing following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

This data revealed that reports of phishing scams impersonating the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority surged from 572,029 in the financial year 2019-20 to 1,069,522 from April 2020 to April 2021.

Messages related to tax rebates or refunds made up the majority of reported scams, comprising 690,522 out of a total of 1,069,522 that were recorded in 2020-21. This compares to 636,118 in 2019-20. This increase is likely a result of cyber-criminals looking to exploit the creation of a number of financial relief packages introduced by the UK government during COVID-19.

There was also a substantial rise (66%) in suspected voice scam attacks in this period, from 203,362 reports in FY 2019-20 up to 690,522 in FY 2020-21.

Email was the most…

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