BANGOR, Maine — City police have issued a warning about one of the latest e-mail scams to hit the region, and it comes on what appears to be bona fide Internal Revenue Service letterhead.
“That’s the problem. It looks official,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Thursday about a bogus IRS document that has been reported in area inboxes, along with a form called a W-4100B2, purportedly a request for recertification of foreign status.
“Also, IRS season [just ended] and people want to be sure they’re doing the right thing,” he said.
“The IRS would never send you an e-mail, let alone ask you to fax that kind of information,” Edwards said.
The scam is aimed at nonresidents who have bank accounts and investments in the U.S. and threatens that the IRS will withhold 30 percent of earned interest if the form is not returned within a week.
Though the letter looks official enough, it is chock-full of grammatical errors and curious word choices, as shown in this excerpt:
“Our records indicate that you are a non-resident alien. As a result, you are exempted from United States of America Tax reporting and withholding, on interest pay you on your account and other financial dealing to protect your exemption from tax on your account and other financial benefit in rectifying your exemption status.
“Therefore you are to authenticate the following by completing form W-4100B2, and return to us as soon as possible through the fax number: +1-646-403-4499.”
But just to make sure the scammers get your information, the letter instructs those who are U.S. citizens to submit the form anyway and indicate their citizen status.
Recipients are asked among other things to provide their name, address, birth date, Social Security number, bank account numbers, PIN and mother’s maiden name. They are also told to send a photocopy of their driver’s licenses.
Edwards says identity thieves can use the information to drain bank accounts or run up credit cards.
“Do not ever give out personal information unless you know and trust the source it is going to,” he said. “If you’re still not sure, just make a simple phone call to your local IRS office. I’m sure that somebody there will be very eager to tell you what you need to know.”