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IRS Warns Taxpayers About New Email Scam

by Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington

04 June 2007


The Internal Revenue Service has alerted taxpayers to the latest versions of an e-mail scam intended to fool people into believing they are under investigation by the agency’s Criminal Investigation Division.

The e-mail, purporting to be from IRS Criminal Investigation, falsely states that the person is under a criminal probe for submitting a false tax return to the California Franchise Tax Board. The e-mail seeks to entice people to click on a link or open an attachment to learn about the complaint against them. The IRS warned people that the e-mail link and attachment is a Trojan Horse that can take over the person’s computer hard drive and allow remote access to their computer.

The IRS urged people not to click the link in the e-mail or open the attachment. Similar e-mail variations suggest a customer has filed a complaint against a company and the IRS can act as an arbitrator. The latest versions appear aimed at business taxpayers as well as individual taxpayers.

The IRS reiterated last week that it does not send out unsolicited e-mails or ask for detailed personal and financial information. Additionally, the IRS stressed it never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

“Everyone should beware of these scam artists,” explained Kevin M. Brown, Acting IRS Commissioner. “Always exercise caution when you receive unsolicited e-mails or e-mails from senders you don’t know.”

The IRS is urging recipients of questionable e-mails to forward them to the agency, using the address phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS also sees many other e-mail scams that involve tricking victims into revealing private personal and financial information over the Internet, a practice that is known as “phishing” for information.

The IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration work with the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and various internet service providers and international CERT teams to have the phishing sites taken offline as soon as they are reported.

Since the establishment of the mailbox last year, the IRS has received more than 17,700 e-mails from taxpayers reporting more than 240 separate phishing incidents. To date, investigations by TIGTA have identified host sites in at least 27 different countries, as well as in the United States.

Other fraudulent e-mail scams try to entice taxpayers to click their way to a fake IRS website, and then ask for bank account numbers. Another widespread e-mail tells taxpayers the IRS is holding a refund (often $63.80) for them and seeks financial account information. Still another email claims that the IRS’s ‘anti-fraud commission’ is investigating their tax returns.


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