The IRS warns accountants and tax preparers about a new, two-phased phishing scam involving cybercriminals posing as potential clients. This new scam is especially deceiving as many of tax professionals are so inundated with client requests during tax season that they may let their guard down.
CPAs, Tax Preparers and Accountants are Targeted
Here’s how it works. The first phishing email comes in the form of a need for service with a message along the lines of, “I need a tax preparer to file my taxes.” If you take the bait and answer back, a second email includes either an embedded web address or a PDF attachment with an embedded web address that supposedly contains the prospective client’s tax information. When you click on the link or download the attachment, your email address, password and other private information is then collected. Note that there are single-step versions of these emails as well, where the bad actor attaches the “tax information” in the first email.
While it may seem like an attempt that would be easily weeded out, think again. Often, these emails appear to come from a legitimate source—a well-known organization, friend or co-worker—because these accounts have also been victimized. In this example, it would appear to come from someone that is sincerely looking for assistance to have their tax return prepared.
This latest scam is just another step cybercriminals are taking to gain access to your firm’s and your client’s personal information so they can attempt to file and claim fraudulent tax returns.