Tuesday, 28 January 2014

1400 Pounds

This just dropped into my inbox and gave me a momentary fright and even shorter delight.


Like millions of people, part of the crap I’ve had to endure this week was submitting my self-assessment tax form. It’s always a sobering thing to do: weighing up how little you've earned from all your labours. So when something like this appears, it's quite natural for your sphincter to give an involuntary contraction and your heart to leap up one nostril.

Sadly, it didn't take me long to spot that it might not be a totally legit email. I have to say that whilst I admire the effort these spammers go to make their work look like the real deal, complete with all the official graphics, I’m pretty sure that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs know the difference between pounds weight and pounds money, and they don’t generally go issuing tax refunds in ‘lbs’.

My refund is apparently 1400lbs but of what, I’m not entirely sure, though I have my suspicions.


  1. I did the tax thing last April because I knew they owed me a refund. Might not get one this year, but it'll be a close thing. They split my allowance between the self-employment and the little janitor job, and I haven't used the half on the self-employment because it's earned bugger all.

    Still, if I do the return in April again and find I have to give them money, I'll have until next January to find it.

    The spam I'm getting loads of at the moment is something about Barclays making multiple transfers out of my account, and I'm supposed to open a virus-filled attachment to see how much. Well they can transfer away to their heart's content. I don't have an account at Barclays and if I did, there'd be nothing in it.

  2. […] The Spine had one of those fake tax refund emails that looks really professional. Unfortunately the spammers forgot that we in the UK used to have a delightfully eccentric system of weights and measures that trained the brains of many a child into a high degree of alertness. In the spirit of this evening’s randomness, I offer a song for the Spine. It’s more than the measly just-over-half-a-ton offered by the spammers, anyway. […]

  3. And the 'Best Regards' sign off is a bit of a giveaway.

  4. Furor Teutonicus29 January 2014 at 02:30

    What sort of dipshit does their finances by E-Mail any way!!??

  5. I mentioned a few days ago that I have 49 email accounts. Well I now have 50 and the Spam that mainly affects me is from Reese Witherspoon or Anne Hathaway. Don't get me wrong, I love them both but I wish they wouldn't send me so many emails.

    As to tax, I love it when I get those random bits of tax back but it's so rare. Perhaps next year I might get some. My new work is generating a bit of income and now I'm actually getting money for cartooning, which is good for the bank balance as well as the self-respect. If only I could earn money from my writing, I'd begin to feel like I was achieving my goals but I read in the paper last year that nearly all writers earn less than £600 a year, which is a depressing thought when you look at how much Amazon earn from the back of all that labour.

  6. Well, of course that's true. It has to be a particularly brilliant bit of SPAM to get me even slightly interested in clicking on it but what I'm talking about is that immediate gut reaction when you see this stuff appear in your inbox. It's why I hate it so much. It's not that I think it's real. It's that my body instinctively reacts as though it's real for the fraction of a second before my brain kicks in. I hate these bastards for ruining my morning by activating my deep seated fears.

  7. Oh, I think they actually mimicked the iron fist wrapped in the velvet glove routine pretty well. That's pretty much the modern world, though. It's the people out to impose rules etc. that are polite. It's the people you should think would be polite that aren't. In fact, that's what I was thinking of writing about today but I hadn't linked it back to the taxman. I'll go and do that right now!

  8. Furor Teutonicus29 January 2014 at 05:56

    XX I’m talking about is that immediate gut reaction when you see this stuff appear in your inbox.XX

    Yeees... but I see it as a twist on the old, and very much dicredited saying "If you have done nothing wrong, then..."

    If you have never contacted them by E-Mail, then... (OR, given them your E-Mail address.)

    The gut reaction to anything apparantly official though. Being German I can understand that VERY clearly. :-D

  9. I've never thought of it in this way but you're absolutely right. It always fascinates me this inbuilt sense of guilt we seem to have when faced by authority. It's beyond some mental power, as though it lives in the gut where all our badness lives rotting away. I guess it's the modern version of predestination which obsessed poets in previous centuries. I guess if Byron were writing today he wouldn't be intrigued by his own sense of damnation through Eve's actions but damnation via the taxman.

    Interesting that you feel it as a German. I was talking recently via email with notorious bad boy Elberry who now teaches in Germany and he suggests it's a much more open place than the UK, with fewer of our habitual hangups. But I suppose it's human nature to feel the rub of our inherent freedom against all the rough edges of our so called 'society'.

  10. […] by people often seems something of a paradox. It became apparent when ‘Twisted Root’ mentioned in the comments to my previous article about the bogus email from the tax people that ‘the ‘Best Regards’ sign off is a bit of a giveaway’. I snorted a laugh when I […]

  11. Furor Teutonicus29 January 2014 at 23:27

    Germany has, in recent generations (since 1945) changed quite a bit.

    But first as a copper, then as a carer for geriatrics and dementia patients, I dealt firstly with those that had reason to fear authority, and now, with the elderly, those from a generation that remember things like the Gestapo and Stasi from personal experience.

    They were also brought up by parents from the Kaisers times, when every petty Government official was looked upon as some kind of demi-God.

    That kind of experience takes many generations to "work it out of the system."

    Britain, in Victorian times, and indeed a bit longer, were not dissimilar. The, almost, reverence given to doctors, lawyers, and even the insurance man, and rent collector, I experienced in my own family. And that was in the 60s and early 70s.