More than 50 officers from the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Fraud Investigation Service executed warrants simultaneously in Harrogate, Torquay, London and Kent on October 11.
Four residential properties were raided and more than 20 phones were seized, along with several computers and tablets.
The investigation into suspected fraud and money laundering focuses on the use of taxpayers’ identities to commit self-assessment and VAT refund fraud against HMRC. The taxpayers are believed to have been contacted via social media to take part in the scam.
Among those arrested for false representation fraud and money laundering were a 30-year-old man from Harrogate, a 24-year-old man from Kent, a 28-year-old man from Torquay and a 25-year-old man from London.
Peter Vivian, Deputy Director of Fraud Investigations at HMRC, said: “We believe this is a calculated criminal attack on HMRC using misappropriated personal information obtained from innocent members of the public.
“We urge everyone not to share personal data such as bank details, Government Gateway login credentials or national insurance numbers.
“Your details may be used to obtain fraudulent tax refunds from HMRC which could leave a debt associated with your tax record which you may be required to repay to HMRC.
“If your bank believes your account was used to facilitate fraud, it could be closed without notice, making it difficult to open new bank accounts or obtain credit.
“Fraudsters routinely share hacked identities with other criminals to commit further fraud and therefore regaining control of your identity information can be difficult.
“If something seems too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.”
If someone approaches you, online or in person, asking for your or your company’s details and promising money in return, do not provide any information – only deal with HMRC directly or through your appointed tax agent.