Scammers, hoping to cash in on the fear that the IRS is digging more deeply into taxpayer financial dealings, are once again invading e-mail boxes.
The IRS announced today that con artists are sending out messages purportedly from the agency's Criminal Investigation division. The correspondence falsely claims that the recipient is under a criminal probe for submitting a false tax return to the California Franchise Tax Board.
As with all previous phishing schemes, this e-mail tells readers to click on a link or open an attachment to learn more information about the complaint. And again as in earlier cons, the link or attachment is a Trojan Horse that can take over your computer hard drive and give remote access to the criminals.
In making this latest scam alert, Acting IRS Commissioner Kevin M. Brown reiterated that the IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails or ask for detailed personal and financial information. Neither does the agency ask for individuals' PIN numbers, passwords or similar private access information to their finanical accounts.
You'd think by now that such warnings wouldn't be necessary. But obviously, these criminals get enough takers to keep running their schemes.
So, once again, here's your notice. Don't fall for these false e-mail inquiries from the IRS. Instead, forward the e-mails to email@example.com. Since creating the mail box last year, the IRS has received almost 18,000 e-mails from taxpayers reporting more than 240 separate phishing incidents.
To date, investigations by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) have identified host sites in the United States and at least 26 other countries. The IRS and TIGTA are working with the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and various Internet service providers and international CERT teams to take the phishing sites offline as soon as they are reported.
Fish-hook-worm image courtesy Speedy Signs decals.