FBI, This Week: W-2 Phishing Scams Increase During Tax Season


March 8, 2018

The latest evolution of the sophisticated business e-mail compromise scam targets businesses for access to sensitive tax-related data.


Audio Transcript

Mollie Halpern: The latest evolution of the sophisticated business e-mail compromise scam targets businesses for access to sensitive tax-related data.

W-2 phishing scams peak during tax season. They generally work like this:

A criminal or organized crime group claiming to be a company’s CEO sends an e-mail to the human resource department.

The e-mail is a request for the personally identifiable information of employees in preparation for tax season or an upcoming audit.

Steven Shapiro: The targeted recipient thinks the request is legitimate and unknowingly responds by sending all employee data to this fraudulent source. At this point, all employee data can be compromised.

Halpern: That was Supervisory Special Agent Steven Shapiro, who says to avoid falling victim, companies should verify all requests for employee data.

Shapiro: Having a specific PIN code that only the CEO or high-level executive has access to and you have to verify the particular transfer off-channel—meaning picking up the phone and calling rather than through e-mail or some other electronic means.

Halpern: The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, received more than 1,800 complaints about these types of scams between 2016 and 2018.

Report these scams at www.ic3.gov. With FBI, This Week, I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau.

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