Scam: Business Rate Relief Fraud
First occurence: April 2020, with previous incidents also noted
Several members have confirmed this scam has attempted to take money from their business under various company names.
A email will be sent to the business director or partner asking for the previous year’s rate relief funds, and will threaten to begin legal proceedings if the “balance due” is left unpaid.
The email will continue to detail a falsified contract signed by the business, and can include a fictitious previous contract sent date. It also emphasises that the money due to the scammer is not as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The email can be addressed to the business director by name, so please be aware of unfamiliar companies asking to speak business directors or partners.
This is not an email from the UK government or your local authority, so you should be cautious if you are unaware of external contracts regarding business rates.
Example email (garage details removed to protect identity):
“Hi *DIRECTOR NAME*,
I hope you are safe and well.
As you are aware we claimed retail relief discount on your premises at *LOCATION* . This reduced your business rates liability by 1/3 last year.
For the 20/21 bill you will pay £0 business as the relief is worth 100% this year.
I must stress this reduction is nothing to do with Covid-19. Because you are getting retail discount you are also entitled to a £10,000 government grant to help the business through Coronavirus, of course we do not charge you for this as it’s automatic by the government.
Unfortunately our invoice still remains unpaid. I appreciate it’s difficult times for everyone at present but to be fair our invoice was sent to you on the 1st February well before the lock-down due to Covid 19.
As per the agreement you signed on 19.07.2017 you are under contract with County Estates for all business rates reductions until the end of the 2017 rating list. (Which ends at the end of this financial year).
I’m shocked and disappointed to say that our invoice of £1,247.67 still remains unpaid.
With regret, unless full payment is received in cleared funds by 5pm today we will have no alternative but to start legal proceedings.
This will add extra costings and a potential CCJ against your company.
I trust this is just an oversight and you will now settle our invoice.
To report a scam to the UK authorities, please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or fill in an online report via their website here.
If you believe this has happened to you please contact us via our direct membership helpline number, or 0845 305 4230, or email us at email@example.com so we can make other members aware of what is happening.