Sand dollars
Praying, or not,
for financial help

Wildfire tax phishing

Tragedies bring out the worst in some folks.

There's the looting after natural disasters. And there's the slightly more subtle attempts to loot the bank accounts of those who want to help folks who've been through a terrible experience.

So it's no surprise that a new e-mail scam has popped up in connection with the recent Southern California wildfires.

Tax_scam_warning_2 The IRS says the phishing attempt poses as a solicitation from the IRS and the U.S. government for charitable contributions to the fire victims.

As if often the case, the latest scam mixes in a touch of truth. The bogus donation e-mails include text from an actual speech about the wildfires by a member of the California Assembly.

Recipients are encouraged to click on a link, which then opens what appears to be the IRS Web site but which is, in fact, a fake. An item on the phony Web site urges donations and includes a link that opens a donation form which requests the recipient’s personal and financial information.

The IRS also believes that clicking on the link downloads malicious software, AKA malware, onto the recipient’s computer. The program then steals passwords and other account information it finds on the victim's computer system and send them to the scammer.

As noted in my previous post about the fires, if you want to help out folks who lost their homes to the infernos, stick with the major relief organizations like the American Red Cross (1-800-733-2767) or the Salvation Army (1-800-725-2769).

Direct to me: Life goes on for run-of-the-mill phishers, too.

Here's the latest tax scam e-mail I received last week, complete with fake IRS header, fine print tax code gobbledygook and a junk line at the end where the crook apparently was sloppy in his or her cutting and pasting:


After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Tax refund value is $147.59.

Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 3-9 days in order to IWP the data received.

If you distribute funds to other organizations, your records must show whether
they are exempt under section 497 (c) (15). In cases where the recipient org.
is not exempt under section 497 (c) (15), you must have evidence the funds will
be used for section 497 (c) (15) purposes.

If you distribute fund to individuals, you should keep case histories showing
the recipient's name and address; the purpose of the award; the manner of
section; and the relationship of the recipient to any of your officers, directors,
trustees, members, or major contributors.

To access the form for your tax refund, please click here

Internal Revenue Service

Copyright 2007, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A. All rights reserved. EKWMKMFHECWKZEPCBSVEOGSEGGLHQVLMPMGWXC 

Turn them in: As my usual practice, I forwarded this scam message to the special IRS mailbox at [email protected] for further investigation. You should always do the same. Or, if you prefer to report scams via phone, call IRS investigators toll-free at (800) 366-4484.

FYI, I do have a spam/phishing filter. This mailing, like previous ones, was caught and sent automatically to my trash folder. But I check there periodically because sometimes legitimate mail gets mistakenly shuffled into it.

Plus, I like to see just how many pharmaceutical ads for male performance maladies, pleas from foreign royalty and tax scam alerts I'm missing out on. At last count, around 500.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Avril Tyrell

To exploit somebody's misery and misfortune is to me an all time low. You wonder how the people who carry out these scams can even sleep at night. I supposed the lesson here is to remain constantly vigilant.

The comments to this entry are closed.