Economic Stimulus Scam: Fake IRS Phishing E-Mail Making Rounds - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
2/14/2009
09:37 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
Commentary
Connect Directly
Facebook
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Economic Stimulus Scam: Fake IRS Phishing E-Mail Making Rounds

It didn't take long for the online scum to come out of the woodwork and attempt to turn the just-passed $787-billion economic stimulus bill to their wayward purposes. On Friday evening, even before the final Senate vote approving the bill had been cast, I received an e-mail from the "Internal Revenue Service" (that always catches one's attention!) with the subject line "Submit your economic stimulus payment online form." What am I, a failed bank?

It didn't take long for the online scum to come out of the woodwork and attempt to turn the just-passed $787-billion economic stimulus bill to their wayward purposes. On Friday evening, even before the final Senate vote approving the bill had been cast, I received an e-mail from the "Internal Revenue Service" (that always catches one's attention!) with the subject line "Submit your economic stimulus payment online form." What am I, a failed bank?One doesn't so much wonder about the morals of a person who would send this (they have none), but rather how clueless one would have to be to fall for this scam. Still, as P.T. Barnum would've said if he'd lived another hundred years (he died in 1891), there's an Internet sucker born every minute.

Indeed, the phishing e-mail I received had some mild trappings of legitimacy. It's got an address that (falsely, of course) indicates it came from "[email protected]"

Then it cuts to its nefarious chase:

"After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a Stimulus Payment. Please submit the Stimulus Payment Online Form in order to process it.

A Stimulus Payment can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example, submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To submit your Stimulus Payment form, please download the document attached to your e-mail.

Note: If filing or preparation fees were deducted from your 2008 Refund or you received a refund anticipation loan, you will be receiving a check instead of a direct deposit.

Regards, Internal Revenue Service"

In the past, such schemes have directed their targets to submit personal information via an online form that the e-mail directs them to. This one apparently does the same thing (the document it directs you to download is actually an html file).

While this scam is probably the first of many, fortunately it's not going unnoticed. As the newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.sightings, which monitors these things, puts it, "This is guaranteed spam."

Actually, it's a lot worse. For taxpayers who may not be aware, as the IRS noted last year when the government mailed out the 2008 stimulus payments: "Warning -- Scam Artists Are Contacting Taxpayers about the Stimulus Payments. The IRS is not e-mailing or calling taxpayers about their stimulus payment. So if someone claiming to be from the IRS calls or e-mails you about the payments and asks you for a Social Security, bank account, or credit card number or similar information, it's a scam."

What's the worst e-mail scam you've seen? Let me know, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at [email protected].

Like this blog? Subscribe to its RSS feed, here.

For a mobile experience, follow my daily observations on Twitter.

Check out my tech videos on this YouTube channel.

Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
News
How to Create a Successful AI Program
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/14/2020
News
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
Slideshows
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
Slideshows
Flash Poll