Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs Has Created “HMRC Most Wanted” Flickr
Tax evasion cost the United States more than USD $3.09 trillion in the last decade. Across the Atlantic UK government officials have become quite creative to prevent such loses. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is responsible for collecting taxes and payment of state support, and the administration is taking a rather forward-thinking and nearly wild-west approach to rounding up white-collar criminals wanted in tax evasion crimes.
Get a good look at the faces of fugitives found on the HMRC Most Wanted Flickr page. The release of these images on social media aims to help the organization hunt down the UK’s biggest fraudsters. It publishes the photographs and appeals to the public in hopes it will assist and tactic is working reasonably well. Nearly one fourth of the forty images are emblazoned with “Caught and Jailed” while the rest read “Wanted”. Those featured do have standing warrants handed down from UK courts in their name and are being investigated by the UK tax authorities. The pictures include information with their location, age, and a brief description of the nature of their crime.
HMRC’s counterpart in the US, the Internal Revenue Service, pays sizeable chunks of cash to those who participate in nabbing these crooks. In some cases, individuals who provided information that led to the capture and conviction of tax evading criminals have been awarded upwards of USD $2 million. Typically, the reward is one to fifteen percent of the amount the IRS collects, including taxes, fines, and penalties… up to USD $10 million. However, it’s difficult to tell if the HMRC is also offering rewards for such leads.
HMRC has clearly thought outside the box by featuring the images/descriptions on the web-based photography community site rather than on it’s uk.gov domain alone. Appealing to the public through social media channels should make it more difficult to pull off tax evasion in the UK indeed and it may act as a deterrent too.
People in the UK may provide tips on the whereabouts of the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and Fraud-Reporting Hotline (0800 595 000) or through Crimestoppers. A list and image database of fugitives wanted for US white-collar crimes (including tax evasion) can be found on the FBI’s website here.