Scam Alert: Fake Email from IRAS on Tax Refund

This is like an message from heaven: IRAS sending you an email on a tax refund. It’s like what we’ve often heard from the uncles and aunties saying in coffeeshops: “Ah Gong giving money again!”

Well, apparently, if you receive an email from IRAS recently on a tax refund, it most likely is a scam.

A few hours ago, IRAS Facebook Page just issued an advisory. They have uncovered a scam that looks so legit, it might have duped you if not for this article.

Image: Facebook (IRAS)

According to IRAS, the distribution channel of the scam isn’t limited to emails, but letters, SMS or phone calls as well.

Here’s why it’s so scary: the email address would end with the legit @iras.gov.sg. Nowadays, it is possible for scammers to send an email with a “legit” email address using an SMTP tool (I know it’s chim; let’s just say it’s damn easy).

In fact, it’s so easy, we here at Goody Feed ensure that should we need to send anything confidential or sensitive via email, we make it a point to do a “2FA”; contacting the other party via WhatsApp or Skype to ensure that it’s real.

Once, one of us who was doing his reservist suddenly emailed another one of us for a password; we later realized the email wasn’t sent by him. #realstory

So How Does this Latest Scam Work?

The scammer’s goal is to get the victim to click on an attachment or a link, which might contain a computer virus or malware.

Once your computer is infected, the hackers might not do anything to it yet—until they feel a need to use you. #scary

Here’s what IRAS has uncovered on what the scammers would ask you to do:

  • Open an email link or file attachment to review your income or tax statement;
  • Transfer a sum of money, supposedly for tax purposes, to accounts belonging to named individuals (usually an overseas account); and/or
  • Pay sums of money to named individuals (usually a party not residing in Singapore) before an inheritance/estate of a deceased party is released.
  • Provide your bank account numbers to claim tax refunds, enjoy cash rewards, or pay outstanding tax bills; and/or
  • Provide confidential personal information such as personal particulars, personal identification numbers, passwords and bank account numbers, either by completing a form on a website or to someone who impersonates as IRAS staff.

Now, if looking at the email address doesn’t solve the issue, what should you do if you receive an email from IRAS?

Here are some tips provided by IRAS on how to recongize a scam (which should be used for all the emails you receive, man):

  • Promises of money for little or no effort
  • Deals that sound too good to be true
  • Peculiar email addresses and website URLs

If need to, you can contact iras@iras.gov.sg or on 1800 356 8225.

And as usual, if you’re already a victim of a scam, here are IRAS’s advice:

  • lodge a police report;
  • change the passwords or PINs on all your online accounts; and
  • contact your banks to stop any transactions.

No, actually, this is everyone’s advice.

I can’t stress this enough: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is a scam.

And I can’t stress this enough as well: The only free lunch you can have is the cookhouse lunch when you’re serving your NS or ICT.

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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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Featured Image: iras.gov.sg