HM Revenue & Customs has shut down 99 fake take websites in the last year.
The websites were responsible for sending out phishing email scams, directing users to their sites which replicated the HMRC website.
HMRC today issued a warning to taxpayers, saying there had been a surge of the fake emails around the time of the 31 January self assessment deadline.
The fake emails usually inform the recipient they are due a tax rebate, and provide a click-through link to a replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is asked to provide their credit card details. Fraudsters then attempt to take money from the account using the details provided, HMRC said.
By entering information on the sites, victims risk having their bank accounts "emptied" and their personal details sold on to other "organised criminal gangs", the tax office warned.
Chris Hopson, director of customer contact at HMRC, said: “As a matter of policy, HMRC will only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. If anyone receives an email offering a tax rebate claiming to be from HMRC, we recommend they send it to [email protected] before deleting it permanently.”
In the last 18 months, phishing networks have been shut down in a number of countries, including Austria, Mexico, the UK, South Korea, the USA, Thailand and Japan.
HMRC advised taxpayers to check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security to see if any tax emails received are listed, and to avoid clicking on links contained in suspicious emails or opening attachments.