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Indian Department of Revenue Tax Refund Scam

Outline
Email purporting to be from India's Department of Revenue claims that the recipient can apply for a tax refund of 820.50 Rupees by submitting an attached refund form.



Brief Analysis
The email is not from the Department of Revenue and the supposed refund is simply the bait used to trick recipients into supplying financial information to Internet scammers. Any information entered into the bogus "refund form" can be collected by scammers and used for bank fraud and identity theft.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



Last updated: 19th February 2010
First published: 19th February 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Examples:
From: Income Tax Departament
Subject: Rapid Tax Refunds

Dear applicant,
After the last annual calculation of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 820.50 Rupees.

Bank account holders at the Bank of India, will receive the money within 12 hours after filling the form To Access your tax refund please complete the form attached to this email .
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Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance Government of India




Detailed Analysis
Indian Tax Refund Scam Form
This email, which purports to be from Indian tax entity, the Department of Revenue, claims that the recipient can claim a tax refund of 820.50 Rupees by submitting a refund form attached to the message. According to the message, Indian taxpayers who hold an account at the Bank of India will receive their refund within 12 hours of submitting their refund form.

However, the message is not from the Department of Revenue or any other Indian Government department. In fact, the message represents yet another incarnation of a common phishing scam that has targeted taxpayers in several countries for several years. Those who open the attachment will be presented with a web form that asks for personal and credit card details. Filling in the form will not result in the user receiving a tax refund. Instead, all information entered into the bogus form will be harvested by scammers and may subsequently be used for credit card fraud and identity theft.

The attachment that comes with the email has a double extension (.pdf.html) which is apparently designed to trick users into believing that the form is in Portal Document Format (.pdf). In fact, clicking the attachment opens a web page that features a bogus "refund form" like the one displayed on the right.

Internet users should be very cautious of any emails that claim that they can apply for an unexpected tax refund by filling in a form on a website or in an attachment. No legitimate tax department is likely to offer refunds to citizens via an unsolicited email. Very similar scams have recently targeted people living in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia.

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References:
HM Revenue & Customs Tax Refund Phishing Scam
IRS Tax Refund Phishing Scam
Department of Finance Phishing Scam
Australian Tax Refund Scam Email

Last updated: 19th February 2010
First published: 19th February 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer