As tax season approaches, a scam email has been circulating in cyberspace in recent weeks, with the perpetrators claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service in an effort to obtain potential victims’ personal information from their employers.
The scammers have reportedly used spoofing techniques to create a fake email account that looks, at first glance, like a legitimate IRS account.
In the emails sent to payroll and human resources departments, the cybercriminals have requested a listing of all employees, along with copies of their W-2 forms.
“ATTN: Due to some complains (sic) we had concerning the W-2 mismatch, We advice (sic) you to send your 2015 filled W-2 form in (PDF) format for confirmation,” read a scam email dated Feb. 9, 2017, that was obtained by KMOV in St. Louis.
Although boasting an “irs.gov” email address, a closer look at the email revealed several spelling and grammar mistakes that should be huge red flags to anyone who received it, not to mention the repetitive “awaiting your soonest reply” phrase at the end of the email.
According to an IRS news release, the scam started targeting corporate offices, but has spread to school districts, tribal offices and nonprofit organizations.
According to the IRS news release, any organization that suspects they’ve received an email that’s part of the W-2 scam should “forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and place “W2 Scam” in the subject line. Organizations that receive the scams or fall victim to them should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3,) operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Recipients should delete the original email after it’s been forwarded to the IRS.
While many of us would be aware of the suspicious behavior, we all likely know someone — such as an elderly family member or friend — who might not be as familiar with internet scams as the rest of us.
Make sure your friends, family members and co-workers are not taken advantage of by these cybercriminals who can destroy their lives — and yours — with the smallest shred of personal information.
It’s important to remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone, email or social media.
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