Friday, 22 December 2017

Italian scam for VAT

I got an email, in Italian.

Nella tabella che segue sono indicate le somme, complessivamente, da versare per imposte,
sanzioni e interessi e le coordinate dei conti bancari sui quali accreditare i
Il contribuente รจ intimato ad adempiere, entro il termine di 60 giorni dal ricevimento
della presente, al pagamento dell'imposta o della maggiore imposta dovuta e non versata,
delle sanzioni e degli interessi.
In particolare, alle imposte liquidate, al netto di quelle versate, si applica il tasso
di interesse del 4% annuo ai sensi dell'art. 20 del D.P.R. n.602/73 dal giorno successivo
a quello di scadenza del pagamento.
TABELLA degli importi dovuti e intimati
| Descrizione tributo
Importo in Euro
| Interessi
| TOTALE (1)
| Sanzioni complessive (2)

Translation is, I owe them 3.47 euros in interest , for a total of 65.09 including penaties.
In the email, they give my correct address and VAT number.

Huh? I pay my VAT in the 27 EU countres via the HMRC VAT Moss system, and I always pay on time. So I called HMRC at 0300 200 3700, and spoke to them. They suggested I call the Italian people, and were sure they'd have soneone there to speak English.  "Could it be a scam?" I asked. "Not for such a small amount," they opined. So I phoned the number in the email, and no-one there speaks English except the telephonist.

So I called HMRC again. And I told the person I spoke to that I always paid my VAT on time, and via the VAT Moss system that is run by HMRC, so any lateness of payment is down to HMRC. So then this HMRC guy thought that this is probably a scam. My VAT number and address is not a secret.

I think they're right, and it is a scam. A lot of companies might just pay the 65.09 rather than spend time trying to find out if it's legitimate. So if an email earns them 65.09, that's an excellent return on the cost of an email.

... update ...

Three weeks later, a paper letter arrived. That was a surprise - it costs a *lot* more to send a paper letter than an email. So could this be serious? Maybe not a scam? So I read the letter.

They have the company name and address right, but that's not a secret. And they have my VAT number riight.  They are asking for 15% VAT on goods sold for 433.95 euros, in mid 2015.  Well, first of all, I don't sell anything for 433.95 euros, and secondly, VAT Moss started in December 2015.

So I still think it's a scam. But what I can't understand, is why someone should go to so much cost and effort, to scam me for 68.56 euroes.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a classic scam to me. A variation on the old 'invoice a company for something they didn't ask for' scam. All too often the task of paying small invoices is delegated to an overworked secretary who is never told what genuine invoices are due, so just follows orders and pays everything that lands on their desk.

    I hear it's becoming popular again and rather worryingly some legitimate IT businesses are trying it. Usually takes the form of waiting a year then sending customers who bought something an invoice for an extended service contract they didn't ask for. Only thing to do is not pay up and make sure they know exactly why you won't be doing business with them ever again.