Fake IRS Fax Demands Your Bank Account And Passport

Nick has written in to warn us about a fake IRS scam that lately has been targeting nonresident aliens (e.g. teachers and researchers) working in the U.S., as well as American citizens working abroad. In the scam, which has been going on since at least 2002 (pdf), the target receives a faxed request from the IRS to provide his name, SSN, and pretty much every other bit of data you’d need to take over a person’s financial identity.

If you have a friend who’s working overseas, let her know to watch out for this:

I’d like to tip you about a scam going around Japan right now, and possibly Asia (I live and work in Japan), and maybe other places. It’s a fax from being sent to foreigners, and in my case to schools. I’ve received it once and many of my friends have too.

The form is attached [pdf], claiming to be from “Internal Revenue Service IRS.gov”, and prompts the recipient to complete form W-8BEN, which is a tax withholding form. Sure, sounds legit at first, but scroll to the 2nd page (page 1 of the fax) which has a W-8BEN “Substitute Form” that asks for personal info including your bank account number, SSN, and a copy of your passport among other things.

Then it asks the person to fax the form back to +1-206-888-1766 within one week to get a ficticious w-9095. Please inform your readers that this is a scam! I (nor my boss) don’t know how this person got the fax numbers, and one of my friends recieved this even though she’s from England so perhaps they are trying random numbers.

If you receive one of these faxes, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at ustreas.gov/tigta.