Fraudsters are Using Fake W-8BEN Forms for 2021 Tax Season

 

A huge number of US citizens get ready for the 2021 tax season, swarms of fraudsters and scammers are getting ready to rip off residents and non-residents alike. Fraudsters had a promising beginning foreseeing the buzz encompassing tax filing season, with phishing efforts impersonating the government agency as early as November 25, 2020, as indicated by Bitdefender Antispam Lab. Spikes in IRS-related phishing tricks scams were seen on January 19 and 21 when a large portion of the incoming agency-related correspondence was set apart as spam. 

Authorities say a huge number of individuals—from regular residents to sophisticated professionals—fall prey to IRS and other scams every year, losing millions of dollars in the process. As per a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report, imposter scams cost Americans some $667 million in 2019—and those were only the cases reported to authorities. Numerous victims never document reports, regularly out of shame.

This warm-up was no happenstance, since the 2020 fiscal year rounded up, round about $2.3 billion were involved in tax fraud, as indicated by the agency’s annual report. Identity thieves utilized stolen Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) to file early tax returns in the name of legitimate taxpayers, or utilized frivolous tactics to startle recipients into making prompt payments to stay away from arrest or deportation. 

Fraudsters are focusing on non-residents in the US utilizing a phony variant of the W-8BEN Form (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting) to steal sensitive information. This rendition of the scam has been spotted more than 80,000 times since November 25, 2020, with more recognizable spikes expected to hit inboxes until April 15. Unlike traditional phishing, which expects recipients to get to a spoofed website or download a malicious attachment, scammers have set up a phony fax number where recipients should forward their data. The fake version will advise you to give specific data excluded from the genuine W-8BEN US tax exemption document, for example, your passport number, profession, mother's maiden name, bank account name and number and investments. 

Fraudsters have additionally reused older renditions of IRS impersonation scams by utilizing the Economic Impact Payments as a feature of The Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.