Form W-2 scam targeting schools, restaurants, hospitals, tribal groups, and others
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state tax agencies, and the tax industry have issued an urgent alert to all employers of a Form W-2 email phishing scam that has evolved beyond the corporate world and is spreading to other sectors, including school districts, tribal organizations, and nonprofits. In a related development, the W-2 scammers are coupling their efforts to steal employee W-2 information with an older scheme on wire transfers that is victimizing some organizations twice.
Here’s how the scam works: Cybercriminals use various spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear as if it is from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources department, requesting a list of all employees and their W-2s. In the latest twist, the cybercriminals follow up with an “executive” email asking that money be wired to a certain account.
“This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme,’’ said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The W-2 scam, which first appeared last year, is circulating to a broader cross-section of organizations, including school districts, tribal casinos, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, healthcare, and shipping and freight.
The IRS, states, and tax industry urge all employers to share the W-2 scam with their payroll, finance, and human resources employees. See the full alert for steps employers can take if they encounter the scam.
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