Ellin & Tucker Offices

Article of Interest: Look Out! Dangerous W-2 Phishing Scam Evolving

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Who are the targets? Schools, Restaurants, Hospitals, Tribal Groups and Others

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), joined by state tax agencies and the tax industry, has issued an urgent alert to all employers regarding the Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) email phishing scam. According to the agency, the phishing scam “has evolved beyond the corporate world and is spreading to other sectors, including school districts, tribal organizations and nonprofits.” The W-2 scammers have been coupling their attempts to steal employee W-2 information with a scheme regarding wire transfers.

As described by IRS, cybercriminals use a variety of techniques to make an email appear as if it is from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments and requests a list of all employees and their Forms W-2. In a new twist, the perpetrators follow up with an “executive” email to the payroll department or comptroller and ask that a wire transfer be made to a specific account. In some cases, companies have responded to this request. Noting that there has been “an upswing of [scam] reports in recent days,” IRS urged employers to immediately share this information with their payroll, finance and human resource personnel. They also should have an internal policy on the distribution of employee W-2 information and conducting wire transfers.

“This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns.”

Additional information may be found on the IRS website by clicking Dangerous W-2 Phishing Scam Evolving; Targeting Schools, Restaurants, Hospitals, Tribal Groups and Others.

H. Martin FetschAs a Principal in the Tax Department of Ellin & Tucker, Martin (“Marty”) works closely with clients, both individuals and privately-owned businesses, on tax planning, development of plans for business succession, merger and acquisition and estate and gift tax matters.  His extensive experience with business and individual tax planning has enabled him to assess the current tax environment effectively, address local, State, Federal and international issues, efficiently develop recommendations about these issues and communicate them to his clients.


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