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The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has warned the public against unscrupulous individuals using fake tax clearance certificates to extort money from unsuspecting importers and recipients of imported parcels.

BIR commissioner Caesar Dulay, in an advisory issued on May 6, said the bureau has found that a proliferation of fake tax clearance certificates is being utilized by unscrupulous persons to perpetrate a scam that involves extorting money from unsuspecting importers and recipients of parcels from abroad.

The advisory explained that the modus operandi starts with an email sent to prospective victims informing them that their parcel has reached the Philippine transit port and is on hold, awaiting payment of some airport taxes.

The email further states that payment should be made only to the courier that will deliver the parcel to the victim’s doorstep within the day.

After paying the alleged required airport taxes, the victim will again receive an email, this time accusing him or her of money laundering. Further, the victim is told the alleged “Surveillance Department” of BIR has placed his or her consignment on hold pending payment of a certain amount representing 12% of the Philippines’ official tax ratio of the total fund detected by an alleged “Ultra-sensitive Scan Report.”

Through email, a fake BIR tax clearance will then be issued to the victim and payment of a certain amount demanded from the recipient.

BIR has denied issuing such tax clearances and advises the public to verify the authenticity of tax clearances being issued to them. It added that any such clearance not listed or posted on the BIR website is deemed to have originated from an illegal source.

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