WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service alerted tax professionals today about a fake insurance tax form scam that is being used to access annuity and life insurance accounts.
Cybercriminals are combining several tactics to create a complex scheme that affects both tax professionals and taxpayers.
There may be variations but here’s how a scam works: The cybercriminal, impersonating a legitimate cloud-based storage provider, entices a tax professional with a phishing email. The tax professional then provides their email credentials including username and password to the cloud-based provider.
With access to the tax professional’s account, the cybercriminal steals client email addresses and impersonates the tax professional.
In impersonation the criminal sends emails to the users clients, attaching a fake IRS insurance form and requesting that the form be completed and returned. The cybercriminal receives replies very similar to the tax professional’s email – using a different email service provider or a slight variation to the tax pro’s address.
The subject line varies but may be “urgent information” or a similar request. The awkwardly worded text of the email states:
Dear Life Insurance Policy Owner,
Kindly fill the form attached for your Life insurance or Annuity contract details and fax back to us for processing in order to avoid multiple (sic) tax bill (sic).
The cybercriminal, using data from the completed form, impersonates the client and contacts the individual’s insurance company in attempt to obtain a loan or make a withdrawal from the accounts.
The IRS reminds tax professionals to be aware of phishing emails, free offers and other common tricks by scammers. Tax professionals who have been breached should contact the IRS immediately through their Stakeholder Liaison.
Individuals who receive the insurance tax form scam email should forward it to email@example.com and then delete it. Individuals who completed and returned the fake tax form should contact their insurance carrier for assistance.