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Sole traders and business, warning issued about Fake HMRC Tax Emails being sent out

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THIS is 1 of the latest spoof or imitation emails being sent to small and large businesses this week. Fake emails like this get sent out all the time claiming to be a well known company, bank or public authority, delivering a file to a recipient that has viruses attached to it. This email uses this simple idea to get people to open the email up and infect the recipient's computer with a virus. But unlike many in the past, this email often gets through your firewalls and antivirus protection systems, as it, itself, often doesn't have a virus attached to it directly... These scams usually come in 2 or 3 parts.

So how does this work? Yes, we are all aware of the fake emails, but with time being often against us and with more and more communications becoming internet-based, for example, invoices, bank statements and even in some cases medical reports, we tend now not to think when opening emails. Well, it must be safe... the antivirus did not flag it up! Also it looks like the HMRC, and domain looks correct... But look closer, you will see it's a typo squatted domain also you will see that it is not even a .Gov.UK domain address... But if you scan it quickly, as we often do when you get lots of emails, you probably will not spot this. So yep, it's from the HMRC! This is how phase 2 works

We are all worried about HMRC and having outstanding bills with them and we all know how hard it is to get mistakes sorted, should they ever happen. Thanks to the complicated system the HMRC has in place we are not always 100% sure what to do and who to contact to check, plus time is money. Even if you do, some of the emails have help numbers to call. Never call these numbers! Yep, that is often a scam as well... So a victim wants to know more, clicks on the XLS Excel Spreadsheet file and opens it. All is good, it passed through the antivirus check with flying colours and is opening just fine. But wait... Sadly the versions of the program used to create this file are not the same as yours...

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Excel will then ask you to install a patch/update to be able to open it. You press yes to install, as it is the program you work with and know that is asking you.... Then the program itself will be used by the file to download and install Malware or other exploits, via exploiting the files macros. In this case, the email appears to try and deliver a Trickbot banking Trojan.  That is the manner in which these scams work. DO NOT follow the advice they give to enable macros or enable editing to see the content.

Even if you do not see the above message, and a small box shows that asks you if you want to turn off the protected view settings on Excel and other Office packages, like Word, do not do this!

Sadly as well as protecting us, as many in the media worried, the new GDPR rules mean we cannot easily find the registrants name or any further details, of the domain used to send this. But we do suggest that should you receive the email, you forward it to:- Phishing@HMRC.GSI.Gov.UK and also to Phishing@CityOfLondon.Police.UK.

Recently HMRC has issued a warning that thousands of people have received emails and SMS messages seeking bank details. Just like this email, the fraudsters are sending scam out the information that appears to be from HMRC. These related "phishing" scams are common as we have added above. The most known is the email about tax refunds. It is worth adding that HMRC never sends out tax refunds offers by email or text message and never asks you to send them credit, debit or bank details this way.

If you are a student, you might also want to take a look at our report in last weeks edition called:- "HMRC warns of tax scams targeting University students." To read it click on here now.

New film urges victims to consider restorative justice to get answers

A powerful new film of one woman's journey to get answers from her childhood abuser has been released to encourage other victims of crime to consider using restorative justice to help them recover and move forward with their lives.

Louise Gilbert, 39, has spoken out about her experiences to increase awareness and understanding of restorative justice to support International Restorative Justice Week, in the hope her story will give others the confidence to consider using the service.

Produced by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, in partnership with her commissioned restorative justice provider Restorative Solutions, the 3 minute video available on YouTube shows Louise talking about how childhood abuse by her grandfather that has left her feeling:- "empty" and holding a:- "lot of heartache" for more than 25 years.  You can also watch the full video YouTube...

Louise, who was supported through the restorative justice (RJ) process by Restorative Solution's lead RJ practitioner Jeannette Wrigley, explains how it helped her to gain back control and enabled her to feel happier and move forward more positively with her life.

Louise, who lives in Merseyside, said:- "Restorative Justice appealed to me because it was about facing him and gaining the power and control back that he'd had over me for the whole of my life. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I know he had been convicted and gone to prison, but it was also him admitting it and I knew he was going to do that to my face. It was quite uplifting really.  I could then start to move on with my life, because I've now got answers to the questions I've held since I was a five year old little girl. It's kind of really changed the way I think and feel about what happened to me as a young girl. I've now started to feel happy, I've been promoted in work, and I'm kind of putting that behind me. I have got that power and that control and it's a really, really lovely, uplifting feeling."

RJ brings together people harmed by crime or conflict with those responsible for the harm, to find a positive way forward. The process gives victims a chance to explain to offenders the real impact of their crime and to get answers to their questions. It allows victims to ask:- 'why me?' and provides them with the opportunity to challenge the offender's behaviour.

Going ahead with a RJ process is always voluntary. For any kind of communication to take place the offender must have admitted to the crime, and both victim and offender must be willing to participate. The short video also details how the RJ process works and the steps a victim of crime would undertake if they were interested in accessing this service.

Lead RJ practioner for Restorative Solutions, Jeannette Wrigley, who is featured in the film, said:- "Victims are often looking for the answers to the 'why?' question. They're looking for closure to the crime. Sometimes they're looking for someone to say they're sorry and sometimes what they want is people to understand how the crime has impacted upon their lives. Restorative justice can have a huge impact. It empowers victims, giving them the opportunity to meet or communicate with their offenders in a safe environment. All restorative justice processes are done in the confines of a whole risk assessment process around everyone's safety, everybody's confidentiality. Nobody needs to ever know what is going on. For victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from that crime."

The RJ service on Merseyside is commissioned by the Police Commissioner as part of the Victim Care Merseyside service which provides support and care to victims to help them cope and recover from a crime.

Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Emily Spurrell said:- "Victims of crime deserve the best possible support to help them deal with what they have experienced and move forward with their lives. The Commissioner and I are keen to support any process that allows the voice of victims to be heard and helps those affected by crime to reach a sense of closure that, sometimes, cannot be found in sentencing alone. RJ approaches are just one of the ways we can do that and it's clear from Louise's account what a difference it has made in her life. I would encourage anyone who is struggling to come to terms with a crime, and who thinks RJ could help them, to think of Louise and to find out more about RJ. Too many people still don't know about RJ, so as we mark International Restorative Justice Week, I would also urge people to spread the word about the positive difference restorative justice can make to victims' lives."

As part of International Restorative Justice Week, the Deputy Police Commissioner visited Wymott Prison, in Lancashire with Restorative Solutions, on Wednesday, 21 November 2018, to meet a convicted burglar who has been through rehabilitation training and is now keen to apologise to his victim. During the awareness raising week, 8 new volunteers have also been trained to help deliver RJ processes in order that more victims will be helped to get answers. 

International Restorative Justice Week runs from 18 November to 25 November 2018. It aims to raise awareness of RJ and how it can be used to deal with harm in many different situations. The theme for #RJWeek is Inspiring Innovation.  Anyone affected by crime should visit:- VictimCareMerseyside.Org for help and advice and to find organisations that can offer support.

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