Every year, April 15th marks the deadline for the submission of tax returns in the US, and with it comes the now-classic IRS (Internal Revenue Service) scam.
Scammers are on the hunt for those who were not able to file their tax statements yet. Knowing how busy people are these days, scammers have taken advantage of this and sent out scam mails that will lure their prey into giving them their personal information. They have even taken the initiative to provide their victims the very form that they have to fill out.
These cybercriminals target non-resident aliens in the United States specially since they are the ones who are likely to file a “Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding.” However, the said certificate, FORM W-8BEN, which is attached to the mail, has been altered. There are a number of personal inquiries that are not needed for the real form, for instance, bank account numbers.
The scammers may be taking their chances since they are never sure if they have indeed sent this email to a non-resident alien or not. The recipient may simply delete the email and forget about it. However, if these scammers hit paydirt and the victim takes the bait, they would be well-compensated for their efforts with the victim’s personal information. Moreover, if this particular mail was sent to an ambitious recipient, he/she might take this bogus opportunity to be exempted from paying tax.
Here are screenshots of the altered FORM W-8BEN and the real deal, side by side:
Although the email is rather convincing, there are several factors that some people might (or may I say SHOULD) use to consider that this mail is a scam:
- IRS would not ask for your bank account number or PIN
- IRS would not ask for this form to be submitted through a private fax number
- IRS would not ask for the form to be sent urgently, with them withholding 30% “of the interest paid to you” as a consequence for your delinquency in only a week-span of time
Spam mails are already detected in our latest AS Full Pattern (AS6596). Trend Micro Smart Protection Network protects its users from these and other similar scams this tax season.