Profiling HMRC and IRS Scammers by Utilising Trolling Videos: Offender Characteristics

Kalliopi Tzani Pepelasi, Mirjana Gavrilovic Nilsson, David Lester, Ntaniella Pylarinou, Maria Ioannou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Fraud has become a global problem, with victims of fraud suffering financially, psychologically and emotionally; to the extent that some individuals even attempt suicide due to embarrassment, shame and anger. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Internal Revenue Services (IRS) scams are one type of fraud that has risen significantly in the past few years. The majority of these scams originate in countries where the police have limited resources to tackle them, whilst the Western countries that suffer huge financial losses have no jurisdiction in the countries where the scammers are based. Consequently, there is limited available research on tax scams, limited information on the characteristics of the offenders who execute them, and a great need for more awareness and public protection. The present exploratory study used 30 YouTube videos where Internet trolls engage with HMRC/IRS scammers. The Internet trolls attempted to preoccupy the scammers by making the HMRC/IRS scammers believe they have identified a potential victim, a potential “win”, thus wasting their time and potentially stopping them from victimising someone else. The qualitative analysis of the 30 YouTube videos indicates that individuals should be vigilant when they receive calls from persons with foreign accents and poor English spoken vocabulary, alleging they are from the HMRC or IRS tax institutions. The scammers issue unrealistic, personal threats, use erroneous grammar and foul language, phish for personal information, demand secrecy over the transaction, and show disrespect and disdain for the victim. They also request immediate payment over the phone by means that are not HMRC/IRS approved. The limitations and implications of the study are discussed in detail.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Forensic and Investigative Accounting
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Nov 2019

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offender
revenue
video
fraud
taxes
Internet
suicide attempt
secrecy
shame
anger
transaction
grammar
jurisdiction
vocabulary
police
threat
human being
present
demand
language

Cite this

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title = "Profiling HMRC and IRS Scammers by Utilising Trolling Videos: Offender Characteristics",
abstract = "Fraud has become a global problem, with victims of fraud suffering financially, psychologically and emotionally; to the extent that some individuals even attempt suicide due to embarrassment, shame and anger. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Internal Revenue Services (IRS) scams are one type of fraud that has risen significantly in the past few years. The majority of these scams originate in countries where the police have limited resources to tackle them, whilst the Western countries that suffer huge financial losses have no jurisdiction in the countries where the scammers are based. Consequently, there is limited available research on tax scams, limited information on the characteristics of the offenders who execute them, and a great need for more awareness and public protection. The present exploratory study used 30 YouTube videos where Internet trolls engage with HMRC/IRS scammers. The Internet trolls attempted to preoccupy the scammers by making the HMRC/IRS scammers believe they have identified a potential victim, a potential “win”, thus wasting their time and potentially stopping them from victimising someone else. The qualitative analysis of the 30 YouTube videos indicates that individuals should be vigilant when they receive calls from persons with foreign accents and poor English spoken vocabulary, alleging they are from the HMRC or IRS tax institutions. The scammers issue unrealistic, personal threats, use erroneous grammar and foul language, phish for personal information, demand secrecy over the transaction, and show disrespect and disdain for the victim. They also request immediate payment over the phone by means that are not HMRC/IRS approved. The limitations and implications of the study are discussed in detail.",
keywords = "HMRC Scammers, IRS Scammers, Offender Characteristics, fraud",
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Profiling HMRC and IRS Scammers by Utilising Trolling Videos : Offender Characteristics. / Tzani Pepelasi, Kalliopi; Gavrilovic Nilsson, Mirjana; Lester, David; Pylarinou, Ntaniella; Ioannou, Maria.

In: Journal of Forensic and Investigative Accounting, 13.11.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Profiling HMRC and IRS Scammers by Utilising Trolling Videos

T2 - Offender Characteristics

AU - Tzani Pepelasi, Kalliopi

AU - Gavrilovic Nilsson, Mirjana

AU - Lester, David

AU - Pylarinou, Ntaniella

AU - Ioannou, Maria

PY - 2019/11/13

Y1 - 2019/11/13

N2 - Fraud has become a global problem, with victims of fraud suffering financially, psychologically and emotionally; to the extent that some individuals even attempt suicide due to embarrassment, shame and anger. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Internal Revenue Services (IRS) scams are one type of fraud that has risen significantly in the past few years. The majority of these scams originate in countries where the police have limited resources to tackle them, whilst the Western countries that suffer huge financial losses have no jurisdiction in the countries where the scammers are based. Consequently, there is limited available research on tax scams, limited information on the characteristics of the offenders who execute them, and a great need for more awareness and public protection. The present exploratory study used 30 YouTube videos where Internet trolls engage with HMRC/IRS scammers. The Internet trolls attempted to preoccupy the scammers by making the HMRC/IRS scammers believe they have identified a potential victim, a potential “win”, thus wasting their time and potentially stopping them from victimising someone else. The qualitative analysis of the 30 YouTube videos indicates that individuals should be vigilant when they receive calls from persons with foreign accents and poor English spoken vocabulary, alleging they are from the HMRC or IRS tax institutions. The scammers issue unrealistic, personal threats, use erroneous grammar and foul language, phish for personal information, demand secrecy over the transaction, and show disrespect and disdain for the victim. They also request immediate payment over the phone by means that are not HMRC/IRS approved. The limitations and implications of the study are discussed in detail.

AB - Fraud has become a global problem, with victims of fraud suffering financially, psychologically and emotionally; to the extent that some individuals even attempt suicide due to embarrassment, shame and anger. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Internal Revenue Services (IRS) scams are one type of fraud that has risen significantly in the past few years. The majority of these scams originate in countries where the police have limited resources to tackle them, whilst the Western countries that suffer huge financial losses have no jurisdiction in the countries where the scammers are based. Consequently, there is limited available research on tax scams, limited information on the characteristics of the offenders who execute them, and a great need for more awareness and public protection. The present exploratory study used 30 YouTube videos where Internet trolls engage with HMRC/IRS scammers. The Internet trolls attempted to preoccupy the scammers by making the HMRC/IRS scammers believe they have identified a potential victim, a potential “win”, thus wasting their time and potentially stopping them from victimising someone else. The qualitative analysis of the 30 YouTube videos indicates that individuals should be vigilant when they receive calls from persons with foreign accents and poor English spoken vocabulary, alleging they are from the HMRC or IRS tax institutions. The scammers issue unrealistic, personal threats, use erroneous grammar and foul language, phish for personal information, demand secrecy over the transaction, and show disrespect and disdain for the victim. They also request immediate payment over the phone by means that are not HMRC/IRS approved. The limitations and implications of the study are discussed in detail.

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KW - IRS Scammers

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