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Fake CEO phishing tax scam is back

Remember that tax scam last spring where crooks posing as company executives sent emails asking for workers' payroll data?

It was the one that fooled lots of folks, including a Milwaukee Bucks employee who thought that the message really did come from the NBA franchise's president. That chagrined Bucks' staffer sent the phishing crook 2015 tax year data on the team's employees, including his rank-and-file colleagues and highly-paid professional basketball players.


Well, that tax scam is back.

Email spoofs company CEO: The Internal Revenue Service says the email scam is now making its way across the nation for a second time. Once the crooks get the data, they then file fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds.

This type of phishing is known as a spoofing e-mail. In this instance, it contains the actual name of a company's chief executive officer or other top corporate official in an attempt to prompt employees, eager to do what the big boss asks, to send back workers' personal financial data.

The IRS says the emails are likely to ask scam targets such things as:

  • Kindly send me the individual 2016 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.
  • Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary)?
  • I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2016, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me ASAP.

In light of the scam's resurgence, the IRS urges company payroll officials to double check any executive-level or unusual requests for lists of W-2 forms or Social Security numbers.

Other scams out there, too: The IRS and its Security Summit partners also remind all taxpayers that this is just one of myriad tax scams that are or will appear this filing season.

While the IRS, state tax officials and the tax industry have made significant progress in slowing tax-related identity theft, cyber-criminals are using more sophisticated tactics to try to steal even more data that will allow them to impersonate taxpayers.

The bottom line, this filing season and year round, is to be careful out there. And be especially suspicious of any effort from any source and by any method to get personal and financial information from you.

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