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"Copycat" website conned thousands into paying to submit a tax return.

2014 has so far seen thousands of consumers fall victim to a copycat tax return website that masquerades as a legitimate government destination resulting in the users paying needless fees.

Official government services can, of course, be found by searching on the website. The lookalike website, were careful to replicate the real thing ( 
Once visitors hit the website they were fooled into thinking it was the official site due to it sporting the same colours and key words, such as gateway. The site also enticed taxpayers by appearing at the top of internet searches when people tried to find the official site, this was because it paid Google and other search engines to advertise it ahead of the Revenue site. 

All the copycat site enabled the tax payers to do was to order official documents for a ‘service fee’ of up to £1,000. Those that fell victim to the website have since been applying for refunds - some with no avail. The Telegraph report on some of the many victims who were affected (find the link at the bottom of this blog to read specific cases).

Some users however, were fortunate enough to obtain refunds and these come as the Government finally begins to clamp down on websites that palm themselves off as Government sites. Authorities have finally taken action against some of these copycat firms, arresting five people, who have been released on bail pending further investigation. Reportedly there are also over 20 other copycat websites that have been suspended while investigations continue.

Which?’s Executive Director, Richard Lloyd said: ‘For too long the people behind copycat websites have got away with misleading consumers into paying potentially hundreds of pounds for services that should be free. Simply punishing those committing this crime isn't enough - people who have been duped by these sites should also get a full refund of the money they were misled into paying.’

To read more about some of the unlucky victims, click here

If you have any queries related to your tax returns get in touch with your dedicated Accountant today; 01296 468 185 

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