back to article Gird your coins: A phishing tsunami is smashing into America

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has put Americans on red alert following a massive increase in reports of phishing and malware attacks targeting taxpayers. The US tax authority said in an advisory that so far this year, reports of email and SMS-based scams were up 400 per cent and can be expected to continue in the build …

  1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Easy way to identify a fake

    If an email or SMS message is claiming to be from a government agency, its obviously a fake; governments are too incompetent to use any technology made after 1965; seeing as no politicians seems to know how one of those new-fangled 'comm-poot-ors' work and all.

    I worked as a contractor for the Senate for a while, there are far too many senators that have their staff print all their emails so that they can read it, and then have their secretary dictate a response. I personally knew of 5 of them that did that and I heard about several others from the other IT folk while I worked there. One of them is a prominent member of several computer/telecom related committees...

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Easy way to identify a fake

      1965? I thought they were doing well with very modern techmology - quill pens.

    2. Jan 0

      Re: Easy way to identify a fake

      > senators that have their staff print all their emails so that they can read it, and then have their secretary dictate a response

      If the secretaries can dictate the response, why do the senators need to read the email?

    3. KeithR

      Re: Easy way to identify a fake

      "I worked as a contractor for the Senate for a while"

      Maybe that's where these "incompetent" Government agencies are going wrong?

  2. Ole Juul

    How can I resist?

    Here is one which just arrived in my inbox:

    I am a financial consultant in UK;I am contacting you in respect of my late client fund 12.7 Million British Pounds deposited with a bank here in UK which is about to be confiscate by his bank/British government after many years unclaimed; I decided to contact you because you bears the same last name/surname with him . . .

    Who responds to these things?

    You should be rest assured that this is 100% risk-free also free from any scam/fraudulent act - Yours Sincerely Mr.Noel Mcgrath

    Oh, well in that case . . .

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: How can I resist?

      Who responds to these things?

      Stupid people, not to put too fine a point on it.

      Emails like this are not just targetted at those ignorant of finance or computing (for example), but are also written so clumsily that it's more likely that only less intelligent people will respond. This makes it easier for the conmen to draw them in to the next stage of their scam. And into the stage after that, and so on.

      It's fucking evil, regardless.

      1. KeithR

        Re: How can I resist?

        "Who responds to these things?

        Stupid people, not to put too fine a point on it."

        No wonder the IRS saw the need to alert everyone in the USA to the risk...

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: How can I resist?

      @Ole Juul

      I had a colleague that used to reply to them, not out of stupidity though. He would reply in other languages. Or say to the scammer "my wife has already been offered that money!" Or "I am the King of Xxxx, and that's my money!"

    3. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: How can I resist?

      Gullible people, desperate people, vulnerable people. The scammers just target particular events, for example I get loads of "you've missed a delivery" emails just after black Friday, even when I haven't bought anything

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    There's also the phone call...

    Much like the MS Support calls. Possibly the same call center in Pakistan or India. Usually starts with something like "the sheriff is on the way to arrest you unless you settle your debt with us, the IRS immediately." Followed by them asking for my name and SSN. My response is usually, "ok... tell Bob to come on by, the coffee is on and I'm running down the street to the donut shop" and hanging up.

    There's other responses depending on my mood, like screaming, crying, much angst and then after 10-15 minutes of this along with repeatedly asking "why?" I give a fake name and Richard Nixon's SSN.

    1. Kurt Meyer

      Re: There's also the phone call...

      Mark, I've always enjoyed the old "hard of hearing" trick. Hearing Gupta screaming down the line while the handset rests on the table top, is very satisfying.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's also the phone call...

        One I like that has resulted before now in screaming habdabs from the other end is "What would your mother say if she knew you had taken to crime for a living?", a variant of which is "If your mother in law knew what you are doing she would demand her daughter's dowry back". I suspect that a few of the helots don't even realise that they are involved in a criminal scam.

  4. Gio Ciampa


    ... that's one way for the FBI to get into people's phones...

  5. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    Near miss

    I nearly fell for one. I was dozing on the sofa and answered a call which sounded exactly like BT's automated tele-voice. It said that unless I paid my bill promptly I would be hit with a late payment charge. I got as far as tapping in my phone number when I woke up and realised that I had already paid my bill the week before.

    I suppose it's easy to record lots of BT's automated responses and edit them to create any conversation you like.

    1. Alumoi

      Re: Near miss

      Sorry for being stupid, but since do you have to comply with robocalls? Is that the law in the UK or what?

  6. Oengus Silver badge

    Don't steal...

    Old joke I know...

    Don't steal. The IRS hates the competition.

    The IRS don't want you to be a victim of theft. If you accounts are cleaned out there won't be any money left for them to take.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the scammers call me

    I tell them I don't have a phone.

    I argue back and forth that they can't be talking to me as I don't have a phone.

    That throws them for a bit.

    [hangs up]

  8. Tree

    What? The IRS doesn't have a server in Nigeria?

    I have gotten these wierd emails politely requesting that I reveal my banking information. The IRS is not polite, but rude. It must be a scam, honorable sir!

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