Fraud Fears After 30 China-Linked Businesses Use Leicestershire Residents’ Addresses

Residents of a small English street have spoken of fraud fears after discovering their home addresses are being used by China-linked companies. The mysterious targeting of homeowners in the Netherley Road area of Hinckley in Leicestershire was reported to Action Fraud last week after Companies House contacted the residents. According to documents filed with the government agency, at least 21 homes on the street have had their addresses fraudulently used by around 30 China and Singapore based businesses. They include a clothing company, hardware firm, lighting business, and furniture supplier. The directors of the companies—set up in the last two months—appear to all have links to China, with their dates of birth either given as 1990 or 1991. According to information publicly available on the Companies House register, around 30 of the newly set-up businesses are using addresses on the street. Speaking to The Epoch Times, a Netherley Road resident—who asked not to be named—said some of those targeted include elderly neighbours. “We’ve got all the residents in this road, who all of a sudden they’re being told they’ve registered a new company. And its been very frightening for people, especially the more elderly neighbours who have also received these forms from Companies House. “If you haven’t got relatives nearby, what do you do? Thankfully, we’ve got a really good community spirit in the road, so we do support each other. We just don’t know what’s going on or why we are being targeted.” Limited Legal Powers According to the resident, Companies House has now asked those targeted to provide proof they live at their home in order to have their address removed from its listings. That’s despite no onus on the companies to provide any evidence that they are linked to the address they provide to the government agency. “We’ve got people who were born during the war, who don’t know how to fill out these forms never mind sending them in online,” the resident said. “And they have health problems and other concerns and they don’t need this on top of all the other things that are going on in their lives.” The sign for the government department of HM Revenue and Customs in Westminster, London, on May 8, 2009. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images) Speaking to Leicestershire Live, Councillor Ann Pendlebury, a member of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, said residents received letters from HMRC advising the company about tax issues, as well as marketing material from banks intended for the businesses. Julie Colclough, whose mother lives in Netherley Road, told the news site: “This is incredibly distressing. My elderly mother was upset and confused and had no idea how to deal with this. It should not be that easy to be able to do this.” A spokesperson for Companies House said: “We take all allegations of fraud seriously. Where potential criminal activity is identified, we work closely with law enforcement agencies to refer matters and support investigations.” The spokesperson added that Companies House has “limited legal powers to verify or validate information,” but under the new Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, reforms will give the registrar of companies more power to “question, decline, or remove” information from a business’s listing. The bill would also introduce compulsory identity checks of directors and key staff before a company can be incorporated. 11,000 Registered to Address It’s not the first time China-based businesses have targeted innocent homeowners. In April, Cardiff man Dylan Davies received tax bills for 11,000 Chinese companies which had fraudulently registered his address with the UK government. According to the BBC, Mr. Davies received hundreds of letters from HMRC demanding tax amounting to £500,000 since November last year. He told the broadcaster that when letters from debt collection agencies started to arrive, he got even more worried that bailiffs may come “charging the door down” and feared that the amount of money involved meant his property could be taken. He criticised government agencies for failing to spot the fraud, telling the BBC, “You’d think there’d be a systems [sic] with the technology today that would have picked it up immediately.” The BBC reported that the head of HMRC admitted the problem in a letter to the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Permanent Secretary Jim Harra said, “2,356 of the businesses have a tax debt and we have acted to prevent any further contact with this address in relation to these debts.” Mr. Harra said investigations “so far have found no evidence of fraud or fraudulent intent” and 70 percent of the businesses registered to Mr. Davies’s address operated in online marketplaces. The law changed in January 2021, meaning online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay must collect VAT from overseas traders and pay it to HMRC. But if a company has a UK address for VAT, that it does not have to provide proof of, it is responsibl

Fraud Fears After 30 China-Linked Businesses Use Leicestershire Residents’ Addresses

Residents of a small English street have spoken of fraud fears after discovering their home addresses are being used by China-linked companies.

The mysterious targeting of homeowners in the Netherley Road area of Hinckley in Leicestershire was reported to Action Fraud last week after Companies House contacted the residents.

According to documents filed with the government agency, at least 21 homes on the street have had their addresses fraudulently used by around 30 China and Singapore based businesses.

They include a clothing company, hardware firm, lighting business, and furniture supplier.

The directors of the companies—set up in the last two months—appear to all have links to China, with their dates of birth either given as 1990 or 1991.

According to information publicly available on the Companies House register, around 30 of the newly set-up businesses are using addresses on the street.

Speaking to The Epoch Times, a Netherley Road resident—who asked not to be named—said some of those targeted include elderly neighbours.

“We’ve got all the residents in this road, who all of a sudden they’re being told they’ve registered a new company. And its been very frightening for people, especially the more elderly neighbours who have also received these forms from Companies House.

“If you haven’t got relatives nearby, what do you do? Thankfully, we’ve got a really good community spirit in the road, so we do support each other. We just don’t know what’s going on or why we are being targeted.”

Limited Legal Powers

According to the resident, Companies House has now asked those targeted to provide proof they live at their home in order to have their address removed from its listings.

That’s despite no onus on the companies to provide any evidence that they are linked to the address they provide to the government agency.

“We’ve got people who were born during the war, who don’t know how to fill out these forms never mind sending them in online,” the resident said.

“And they have health problems and other concerns and they don’t need this on top of all the other things that are going on in their lives.”

Epoch Times Photo
The sign for the government department of HM Revenue and Customs in Westminster, London, on May 8, 2009. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Speaking to Leicestershire Live, Councillor Ann Pendlebury, a member of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, said residents received letters from HMRC advising the company about tax issues, as well as marketing material from banks intended for the businesses.

Julie Colclough, whose mother lives in Netherley Road, told the news site: “This is incredibly distressing. My elderly mother was upset and confused and had no idea how to deal with this. It should not be that easy to be able to do this.”

A spokesperson for Companies House said: “We take all allegations of fraud seriously. Where potential criminal activity is identified, we work closely with law enforcement agencies to refer matters and support investigations.”

The spokesperson added that Companies House has “limited legal powers to verify or validate information,” but under the new Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, reforms will give the registrar of companies more power to “question, decline, or remove” information from a business’s listing.

The bill would also introduce compulsory identity checks of directors and key staff before a company can be incorporated.

11,000 Registered to Address

It’s not the first time China-based businesses have targeted innocent homeowners.

In April, Cardiff man Dylan Davies received tax bills for 11,000 Chinese companies which had fraudulently registered his address with the UK government.

According to the BBC, Mr. Davies received hundreds of letters from HMRC demanding tax amounting to £500,000 since November last year.

He told the broadcaster that when letters from debt collection agencies started to arrive, he got even more worried that bailiffs may come “charging the door down” and feared that the amount of money involved meant his property could be taken.

He criticised government agencies for failing to spot the fraud, telling the BBC, “You’d think there’d be a systems [sic] with the technology today that would have picked it up immediately.”

The BBC reported that the head of HMRC admitted the problem in a letter to the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

Permanent Secretary Jim Harra said, “2,356 of the businesses have a tax debt and we have acted to prevent any further contact with this address in relation to these debts.”

Mr. Harra said investigations “so far have found no evidence of fraud or fraudulent intent” and 70 percent of the businesses registered to Mr. Davies’s address operated in online marketplaces.

The law changed in January 2021, meaning online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay must collect VAT from overseas traders and pay it to HMRC.

But if a company has a UK address for VAT, that it does not have to provide proof of, it is responsible for the payment.

Roger and Norton Solicitors said at the time that Mr. Davies case highlighted the “vulnerabilities in the UK tax system.”

“It is likely that the firms were collecting VAT from their buyers but not paying it to HMRC, constituting VAT fraud,” the firm said.

“The consequences of such fraud can be severe, and individuals can face significant penalties and interest charges.

“It is essential to act quickly and seek legal advice if you receive unexpected tax bills or if you suspect that fraudulent activity may be taking place.”