Posted on February 21, 2018 at 7:28 AM
Hackers are now perpetuating tax fraud by targeting tax preparing firms to make fraudulent requests and pocket the fraudulent tax money.
A group of identity thieves has recently turned their attention to compromising the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and pocketing the tax money. In a new report, independent cybersecurity researcher, Brian Krebs, revealed that hackers have been compromising the online accounts of tax preparing firms and to subsequently use them to file fraudulent requests. Once the fraudulent request is processed by the IRS, they deposit the tax return to the bank account by the targeted victim of the hacker. After this, the hackers contact those victims and claim that the money in their account should be returned.
The group of hackers uses several ruses to accomplish this. Some victims have reported that the hackers phone them and pretended to be officials of a debt collection agency who claimed that the money was deposited accidentally and asked the victim to return the money. If the victim refuses, the hacker threatened the victim with fines and possible criminal charges.
Earlier this month, this scam was in full force all over Oklahoma when the hackers targeted more than half a dozen banks all over the state. According to the executive vice president of the fraud department at the Oklahoma Bankers Association, Elaine Dodd, several banks’ customers complained that they had huge sums deposited into their bank accounts all around the same time.
Dodd added that the affected individuals received deposits from the US Treasury and then shortly after received a phone call from a person who claimed to be a representative from a company called DebtCredit with a website name of debtcredit.us.
According to Dodd, the fraudulent tax returns were traced back to a local tax preparation firm who confirmed that they fell victim to a phishing hack shortly before the scam campaign was executed. All affected victims have received assistance from the bank to close their accounts and open up new ones to minimize any further damage that might occur in the future.
While the debtcredit.us domain has been inactive for quite some time now, there is an exact replica of the website available on the domain jcdebt.com that was registered almost a month ago. While the jcdebt.com website claims to be from the New Jersey-based firm Debt & Credit Consulting, this firm has lost its license in 2010.
This website contains a page dedicated to people who receive the fraudulent deposits. The website claims that it is quite routine for tax returns to be deposited into the wrong accounts. The website includes a description of the text as well as an explanatory video.
This has likely been created to mislead victims into thinking that the website is legitimate.
In addition, the scammers even go as far as to issue all affected individuals with a dedicated debt collector. After the fraudulent debt collector has been assigned, they receive the debt collector’s supposed contact details. However, the phone number provided is never answered, and any email sent to the provided address merely bounces back.
In addition, each victim is issued with an official “transaction error correction letter” that includes several personal details of the victim, as well as instruction on how to return the money.
Tax refund fraud is a lucrative scheme for hackers and still impacts hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.
Earlier this month, the IRS issued an official warning to all tax preparers which urged them to enhance their security measures. The IRS also acknowledged the latest scam and stated that it was likely a growing industry.
The IRS advised all individuals who received a similar deposit to immediately contact their bank to close the account and to call their tax preparers.