Monday, March 24, 2008
sponsored by Maple Ridge

Beware of Latest Internet Scam

Do You Know Who Sent You E-mail?

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[March 24, 2008]  Mike Fak, special features writer for the LDN, has had his share of scam e-mails over the years. From winning lotteries in countries he has never visited, all the way to being an heir to Princess Dianna, Fak estimates he has passed on just short of a billion dollars in fraudulent scams.

Last week he was hit by what he states is the most sophisticated identity theft he has ever seen. "When I came home there was an e-mail from the IRS. The e-address even showed as the sender," he said. It stated that according to their latest audit he had erred in his tax report and was due a $92.50 refund.

Now Fak says that he has had an intimate and time-honored relationship with the IRS over the years, and he knew there was no error in last year's taxes. After making sure no virus was attached, he opened the file, which explained how he could apply for the refund. The page looked official and even had a site map that brought the browser to the official IRS home page.

The problem was that the notice was a scam.

Fak realized something was wrong when the refund page requested his Social Security number, which the IRS would already know.

Secondly, the only way for the alleged refund to be processed was electronically to a person's debit card. The file asked for the account number and security number as well as a personal identification number.

The IRS only handles correspondence by U.S. mail and would never ask for this information.

Someone was trying to steal his identity.

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"This is the most sophisticated scam I have seen," Fak said. "The payment page even links back to the IRS' actual website, which could confuse others who don't take the time to think about what they are doing."

Fak said that on the front page of the IRS home site is a reference to this scam, and he has forwarded the communication to their office, although he doubts anyone will ever be caught.

"These people hide in coffee shops all around the world," he said. "They are mobile, have excellent computer knowledge and vanish into the fog with a person's valuable information. I fear this scam is so real-looking that many individuals might get caught up in this one. I hope everyone will spread the word on this one, especially to older folks who might not be as guarded as they should about thieves who have the guts to portray themselves as the U.S. government."

Never disclose personal or financial information to unsolicited requests over the Internet, or over the telephone.

[By LDN Staff]

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