Profiling HMRC and IRS Scammers by Utilising Trolling Videos: The Scam Script

Calli Tzani, Maria Ioannou, David Lester, Mirjana Gavrilovic Nilsson, Thomas Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have issued public warnings regarding the increasing rates of scams targeting taxpayers and the high financial loss to governmental bodies and individuals around the globe these scams impact (HMRC 2020a; IRS 2021). However, despite this large impact on the economy, there is limited research on the working practices of the individuals behind these acts of fraud (Tzani-Pepelasi et al. in Journal of Forensic and Investigative Accounting, 2020). The present study utilised videos where Internet trolls engage with HMRC/IRS scammers, who attempted to delay scammers and protect victims, to investigate the stages involved with this scam using crime script analysis. The findings of this study potentially highlight that such fraudulent operations utilise scam scripts with amendable steps, according to the scammers’ experience and the victims’ gullibility. The limitations and implications of the study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-412
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


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