The predatory technique of spiders consists of injecting their prey with venom and turning them into tin cans full of soup to be sucked out at leisure. Thus I used to think that spiders were limited in their dietary habits to exoskeletal animals. It turns out, however, that some species have evolved that somehow subsist on a more abstract diet. They live on numbers. Here are some arachnids about to capture and devour the numbers 4, 8, 13 and 5.
Of course spiders are sneaky things and they are not limited to the frontal approach. They are perfectly capable of sneaking up on their prey, pretending to be unaware of its existence until the very last minute. Here we see some using this oblique, side-on approach to stalk the numbers 7 and 16.
A spider about to seize a word, enmesh it in silk and carry it home to feed to its spiderlings.
I believe that this recent discovery explains most of the discrepancies and financial under-reporting that you have noted in my Inland Revenue returns. The figures for income were certainly complete and accurate when I filled in the IR12 form, and I can only conclude that digits were removed by arachnid depredations at some stage within your offices. I trust that you will find this explanation adequate and see fit to waive the usual penalties. Yours, Smut.