Scams Feed

Photo by RODNAE Productions Welcome to the continuation of the ol' blog's Tax Crime Weekend! Yesterday's post featured efforts to end abusive tax schemes and bring their promoters to justice. Today's post expands on the legal reckoning theme. The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division, known as IRS-CI, recently revealed its top 10 cases of 2022. Wide variety of schemes, one outcome: The tax evasion attempts included Ponzi pyramid schemes, fake businesses, COVID-19 fraud, bogus tax credit, and even a reality TV couple. And more. Despite the diversity of their criminal tax acts, they shared one thing. They got caught.... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich One of the reasons to file early is to beat tax identity thieves to the punch. Even though the Internal Revenue Service has slowed such tax crimes a bit in recent years, they're still out there. In fact, I've been getting a lot of scam span in recent weeks, both texts and email, like the one below I got this morning. While this poorly faked attempt — a Gmail address for the U.S. Agency for International Development's grant office; really? — isn't a specific tax hack attempt, some of the information the crooks want from me... Read more →


Nothing ever disappears on the internet. Even, or especially, tax related posts. Take the bad legal take on taxes that tops this post. It was retweeted on Sunday (Dec. 11) by, you guessed it, Bad Legal Takes. But there's no indication of when Dave Champion originally blasted out his bad tax advice. It might have been before he was barred by a federal court in 2012 from promoting a tax fraud scheme. Or maybe he's back, since this Tweet apparently went up in October. His books also are still for sale online. Either way, that item this weekend spurred a... Read more →


Holiday season is here. So are the accompanying scams. True, con artists operate year-round. But they really ramp up their schemes during this time of giving. Some try to trick people who are stretched a bit too thin into thinking there's free money out there … as long as they supply some personal and financial information. Other scammers use the hook of holiday giving, especially for those who are less fortunate. Just send along your help to the fake emailer, they say, or even easier, just click on the link. 'Tis the phishing season: And some go for a combo... Read more →


Some of my grandmother's paintings, known as the main Vera Gallery in our house. (Photo by Kay Bell) The hubby and I are art fans, primarily of painted works. That's why almost all of our vacations include a visit to our destinations' museums. Our appreciation of a piece hanging on a wall is why most of our rooms are adorned by framed artworks. Most are signed limited edition print versions of our favorite painters' works. But we also have some originals of a few notable artists, as well as works that are more sentimental but just as lovely, like the... Read more →


This National Hurricane Center graphic shows how the strength and extent of Hurricane Ian's winds changed over its development. The orange segments are tropical storm force. The red swaths are hurricane force. For those of us who've visited Florida's Gulf Coast, the images of how Hurricane Ian destroyed a huge swath of it are gutting. My heart is breaking for Sanibel Island. I cannot image how the people who live there are feeling or coping. Landfall didn't stop this deadly monster. As Ian moved across the Sunshine State, it left in its wake similar, albeit less severe, damages. Now South... Read more →


Watch out! Hurricane shark! Photos like this show up every time sea water rushes into streets. @Gutfeldfox somehow a shark ended up in a Fort Myers neighborhood during Hurricane Ian.. 😬 pic.twitter.com/l3WbzgNQHj — Brad Habuda (@BradHabuda) September 28, 2022 And here's the YouTube version. At least Hurricane Ian prompted a new fake shark image. I was getting tired of the Great White alongside an auto. UPDATE, Sept. 28, 2022, 7 p.m. CT: The fish apparently is real, with some marine experts saying it could be a juvenile shark. What isn't up for debate, though, is the post-storm scams. They are... Read more →


We depend on our smartphones more than ever. They've made texting, especially among younger device owners, the preferred way to communicate. Crooks know this, too. Including tax identity thieves. The Internal Revenue Service says it's seen a recent rash of tax-related texting scams. These latest schemes, known as smishing because they use SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia messaging service), look like they are coming from the IRS. Don't fall for these fake IRS texts, which the tax agency says have increased exponentially this year. Exponential fake tax texts: So far in 2022, the IRS has identified and reported... Read more →


If you believe cryptocurrency has democratized financial services and leveled the financial playing field, then have we got a deal for you. And by deal, we mean scam. That's a major finding of recently released U.S. Department of Treasury report, which also wants regulators to take more action against crypto fraud and scammers. The report, Crypto-Assets: Implications for Consumers, Investors, and Businesses, is in response to President Joe Biden's March 9 Executive Order 14067, which, directed Treasury (among other agencies) to examine ways to "ensure responsible development of digital assets." That's going to take a multi-agency effort, according to Treasury,... Read more →


You've had that student loan for what seems like forever. So naturally, you're eager to take advantage of the debt forgiveness offered by the Biden Administration. But don't act too quickly or you could be a scam victim. Soon after President Joe Biden announced his plan that will erase in some cases up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans, consumer advocates had some suggestions of their own. Beware of perps on the prowl with promises that they can get rid of your student loan obligation more quickly. Or get you even more loan relief if the federal plan doesn't cover... Read more →


UPDATE, Jan. 11, 2023: Computer incidents made today a bad day to fly in the United States and Canada, or try to send international mail in the United Kingdom. But those crashes make it a good day to double check your personal and business cyber security plans. The IRS has some tips and guidance for tax professionals' data reliability and protection. The Internal Revenue Service relies on taxpayers and tax professionals to help ensure that our national tax system is secure. These efforts are particularly critical as the federal tax agency goes more electronic. It's also a legal requirement for... Read more →


One of the most common tax scam practices is to take a bit of truth and twist it. Con artists tweak tax forms, create fraudulent online presences that mimic real tax sites, and impersonate tax officials. The latest report of criminals honing their nefarious tax techniques involves the IRS' Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities (TEGE) division and tax-exempt bonds. As part of the way the IRS audits tax-exempt bonds, the agency's TEGE unit uses its own secure electronic messaging service to transmit and receive data. That communication system now is being used as a hook in a new phishing scheme.... Read more →


One of these things is different from the rest: IRS Warns Donors about Charity Scams Following Recent Tragedies in Boston and Texas (2013) Fake charities make 2018 'Dirty Dozen list (2018) IRS cautions taxpayers about fake charities and scammers targeting immigrants (2021) IRS "Dirty Dozen" list warns people to watch out for tax-related scams involving fake charities, ghost preparers and other schemes (2021) Be aware of scammers who use fake charities to get sensitive information (2021) Bogus charities are always a problem. (2022) 76 Fake Charities Shared a Mailbox. The I.R.S. Approved Them All. (2022) The first six items above... Read more →


Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA Dealing with the normal ups and, too frequently of late, downs of the stock market is enough of a worry. But things can quickly go even further downhill when crooks use fake investments to defraud victims. Not surprisingly, those criminals often get greedier and try to cheat Uncle Sam, too. Such overreach, however, didn't work out well for one California man. Robert Louis Cirillo of Chino Hills pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday, June 28, to charges of defrauding investors of $3.2 million, as well as scamming an elderly man of hundreds of thousands of... Read more →


All graphics courtesy IRS Tax Pros Twitter account Benjamin Franklin wasn't quite correct. There are three constants in life: death, taxes, and tax scams. For more than two decades, the Internal Revenue Service has annually highlighted the 12 worst recent scams. This year's Dirty Dozen includes questionable tax arrangement touted by con artists, pandemic-related schemes to steal people's identities and refund money, dubious tax payment options, and unscrupulous tax preparers. For the last few years, the IRS has shifted from a single list of a dozen tax scams to multiple alerts with more details on the various scams. Those new... Read more →


Unemployment benefits can help relieve some of the sting of losing your job. But there are downsides. The monthly amounts again are fully taxable. And during the COVID pandemic, criminals have had a field day getting fraudulent payments, and causing tax troubles for those individuals whose identities they stole. The COVID-19 pandemic and employment still are inextricably linked. When the coronavirus hit the United States in 2020, the concern was for the companies that had to shut down, and their employees who suddenly were without paychecks. Congress passed a series of COVID relief bills that provided relief options for companies... Read more →


New phishing scam targets tax pros, but everyone needs to be on guard The Internal Revenue Service today warned tax professionals about a new spearphishing scam. I'm surprised we made it into February before the latest tax scam appeared. This email scam uses the IRS logo. It also tries to ramp up the already urgent tax season by using a variety of subject lines, such as "Action Required: Your account has now been put on hold." The IRS provided bogus text of this scam below. Your account has now been put on hold ALL preparers are required to apply security... Read more →


If you use the standard deduction, this tax break can help cut your tax bill, but only if you make your donations by Dec. 31. And if charitable organizations get their wish, the tax break will be extended past 2021, and worth as much as $4,000 ($8,000 for couples). During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Americans needed help than ever before to pay bills, feed their families, and generally just try to retain their pre-pandemic lives. To do that, many turned to nonprofits for help. Unfortunately, charitable organizations found themselves in similar straits. "2020 should have been... Read more →


If you think online crooks are just going after big businesses, think again. Smaller firms are prime cyberattack targets. Go big or go home, unless you're a cybercriminal targeting businesses. More than 70 percent of cyberattacks are aimed at companies with 100 or fewer employees. That revelation is from the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners as this year's National Tax Security Awareness Week was winding down. It's also this weekend's By the Numbers figure. In going after smaller business, con artists target credit card or payment information, the business identity information, or data on employees. "Thieves may... Read more →


Gift cards make great presents for family and friends, but they cannot be used to pay taxes. (Gift card wreath via Pinterest) We all have people on our holiday gift lists who are hard — OK, impossible — to shop for. When I struggle to find the perfect gift, I follow my personal credo: Say it with cash. Or, more often, with plastic. Yes, I give gift cards. And if family and friends are reading this, I am happy to get them. But one place where gift cards aren't welcome is the Internal Revenue Service. This IRS is making a... Read more →