Scams Feed

Photo by Volodymyr Kondriianenko on Unsplash Summer is slipping away, but tax crooks are still hard at work. That's why the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners are spreading the word about signs of data theft. The warning from Uncle Sam and state tax officials, as well as the private sector tax community, is aimed at helping tax professionals. That's understandable, since they collect and manage clients' tax and personal data. If crooks can crack the tax pros' cache, they have what the IRS calls a precious commodity, details on thousands of taxpayers from just a few sources.... Read more →


Summertime, despite what the song says, is not easy if you are the target of a tax scam. And that's increasingly likely this season, says the Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency is urging people to be on the lookout for a summer surge of tax scams. Identity thieves are sending a barrage of email and text messages promising tax refunds or offers to help fix tax problems. Neither the good (possible cash back from Uncle Sam) nor the bad (tax troubles) exist. They are just the latest ploys, targeting individual and business taxpayers, that crooks are using to try... Read more →


Photo by Mediamodifier on Unsplash Guess who's not taking a long July 4th holiday? Tax scammers. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today warned of a new scam mailing in which crooks tell the correspondence recipients that they are owed a tax refund. The fake tax mailing comes in a cardboard envelope from a delivery service. As is often the case with tax scams, the letter includes contact information and a phone number that do not belong to the IRS. The mailing tells recipients that in order to get their refund, they must provide personal information, such... Read more →


Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko Sometimes a tax notice is a good thing. That was the case for a Georgia man who paid his county taxes. Or so he thought. But a follow-up notice prompted him to raise questions about the prior payments. And that led last week to the arrest of a clerk at the Spalding County Tax Commissioner's office on charges of theft and forgery. Paid taxes not paid: The two theft charges come from the taxpayer's payment of his taxes in cash. The alleged forgeries were from receipts for those payments. Before these incidents were reported, the Spalding... Read more →


Many businesses that stayed open during the height of the coronavirus pandemic were able to do so thanks to the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). Some companies, however, subsequently filed for the 2020-2021 tax benefit at the urging of unscrupulous ERC promoters, and now are finding the IRS is looking into their claims. The Internal Revenue Service earlier this summer warned businesses about Employee Retention Credit (ERC) promotions that could land the companies in tax trouble. The ERC was created in 2020 as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help businesses and their... Read more →


Photo by Christa Dodoo on Unsplash The National Taxpayer Advocate has some good news for taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service. But it's not great news. "The taxpayer experience vastly improved during the 2023 filing season," wrote National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins in her mid-year report to Congress issued today. The main reason for the improvement, she noted, was that the IRS caught up in its processing of paper 1040 forms. The tax agency also did a better job this year in dealing with various business returns, generally issued refunds quickly, and upgraded its phone assistance lines so that... Read more →


Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash Among the many lessons we've learned, or not, from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we'll likely never be rid of it. And as the transition to endemic status progresses, we'll continue to deal with flare-ups like, irony alert, the one that erupted following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's recent first in-person Epidemic Intelligence Service conference in four years. The same persistence seems to apply to taxes, too. As the severity of COVID-19 became clearer, most of the United States went into lockdown to help slow its spread. While that saved lives,... Read more →


Unscrupulous tax return preparers once again made the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen scam list. That's not a surprise. The IRS and reputable tax community members are constantly battling shady tax pros and the schemes they use to lure taxpayers to use their so-called services. While the tax world is divided in how to best combat these crooks and scams, the IRS has long argued for tighter tax professional regulation. President Joe Biden also has expressed support for more tax pro oversight. And this month, members of Congress introduced the latest bicameral effort to protect taxpayers from dishonest tax... Read more →


Scammers tend to use tried and true techniques to con people out of their identities and money. One of the most popular schemes involves crooks pretending to be real-life officials. And the Internal Revenue Service is near the top of government agencies that con artists impersonate. CloudFlare, a company which provides security for many companies' online operations, says that the IRS ranks sixth in the 50 top brands when it comes to phishing attempts that use fake sites. The example given by CloudFlare included "IRS" along with the words "contact" and "payment." A big tip-off that the URL is fake... Read more →


Image via CFI Even before film makers began sticking extra scenes at the end of credits, I sat in the darkened theater until the last credit rolled. I do the same when I screen movies and television shows at home … when I can. As I tweeted today, I'd love it if streamers used an artificial intelligence (AI) program to note that I like to watch full show openings. And recaps. And all the closing credits. OK, not so much the information about who's dubbing the actors when the shows are streamed in other countries, but I do use that... Read more →


Photo by Leeloo Thefirst Tax statements are crucial not only to taxpayers, but also tax collectors who rely on the forms' information to verify what people put on their returns. Some crooks, however, are trying to slip false filing data by the Internal Revenue Service, and are entrapping taxpayers in the process. The IRS today issued a warning about a new scam involving fake W-2 forms, the document used by taxpayers and tax departments to verify a taxpayer's earnings. The W-2 info is the main earnings data entered on annual tax returns by millions of filers. Con artists, in many... Read more →


via GIPHY The good news on the scam front is that fewer people reported getting suckered by con artists last year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says there were 2.4 million scam reports in 2022, compared to 2.9 million such reports in 2021. The bad news is that con artists stole more money. The FTC's newest data book issued today (Feb. 23) reports $8.8 billion lost to scams in 2022. That's 2.6 billion more reports than the previous year. One reason for the dramatic increase in the amount of scammed dollars is the growth of investment scams. These schemes were... Read more →


Photo by RODNAE Productions Welcome to the continuation of the ol' blog's Tax Crime Weekend! Yesterday's post featured efforts to end abusive tax schemes and bring their promoters to justice. Today's post expands on the legal reckoning theme. The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division, known as IRS-CI, recently revealed its top 10 cases of 2022. Wide variety of schemes, one outcome: The tax evasion attempts included Ponzi pyramid schemes, fake businesses, COVID-19 fraud, bogus tax credit, and even a reality TV couple. And more. Despite the diversity of their criminal tax acts, they shared one thing. They got caught.... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich One of the reasons to file early is to beat tax identity thieves to the punch. Even though the Internal Revenue Service has slowed such tax crimes a bit in recent years, they're still out there. In fact, I've been getting a lot of scam span in recent weeks, both texts and email, like the one below I got this morning. While this poorly faked attempt — a Gmail address for the U.S. Agency for International Development's grant office; really? — isn't a specific tax hack attempt, some of the information the crooks want from me... Read more →


Nothing ever disappears on the internet. Even, or especially, tax related posts. Take the bad legal take on taxes that tops this post. It was retweeted on Sunday (Dec. 11) by, you guessed it, Bad Legal Takes. But there's no indication of when Dave Champion originally blasted out his bad tax advice. It might have been before he was barred by a federal court in 2012 from promoting a tax fraud scheme. Or maybe he's back, since this Tweet apparently went up in October. His books also are still for sale online. Either way, that item this weekend spurred a... Read more →


Holiday season is here. So are the accompanying scams. True, con artists operate year-round. But they really ramp up their schemes during this time of giving. Some try to trick people who are stretched a bit too thin into thinking there's free money out there … as long as they supply some personal and financial information. Other scammers use the hook of holiday giving, especially for those who are less fortunate. Just send along your help to the fake emailer, they say, or even easier, just click on the link. 'Tis the phishing season: And some go for a combo... Read more →


Some of my grandmother's paintings, known as the main Vera Gallery in our house. (Photo by Kay Bell) The hubby and I are art fans, primarily of painted works. That's why almost all of our vacations include a visit to our destinations' museums. Our appreciation of a piece hanging on a wall is why most of our rooms are adorned by framed artworks. Most are signed limited edition print versions of our favorite painters' works. But we also have some originals of a few notable artists, as well as works that are more sentimental but just as lovely, like the... Read more →


This National Hurricane Center graphic shows how the strength and extent of Hurricane Ian's winds changed over its development. The orange segments are tropical storm force. The red swaths are hurricane force. For those of us who've visited Florida's Gulf Coast, the images of how Hurricane Ian destroyed a huge swath of it are gutting. My heart is breaking for Sanibel Island. I cannot image how the people who live there are feeling or coping. Landfall didn't stop this deadly monster. As Ian moved across the Sunshine State, it left in its wake similar, albeit less severe, damages. Now South... Read more →


Watch out! Hurricane shark! Photos like this show up every time sea water rushes into streets. @Gutfeldfox somehow a shark ended up in a Fort Myers neighborhood during Hurricane Ian.. 😬 pic.twitter.com/l3WbzgNQHj — Brad Habuda (@BradHabuda) September 28, 2022 And here's the YouTube version. At least Hurricane Ian prompted a new fake shark image. I was getting tired of the Great White alongside an auto. UPDATE, Sept. 28, 2022, 7 p.m. CT: The fish apparently is real, with some marine experts saying it could be a juvenile shark. What isn't up for debate, though, is the post-storm scams. They are... Read more →


We depend on our smartphones more than ever. They've made texting, especially among younger device owners, the preferred way to communicate. Crooks know this, too. Including tax identity thieves. The Internal Revenue Service says it's seen a recent rash of tax-related texting scams. These latest schemes, known as smishing because they use SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia messaging service), look like they are coming from the IRS. Don't fall for these fake IRS texts, which the tax agency says have increased exponentially this year. Exponential fake tax texts: So far in 2022, the IRS has identified and reported... Read more →