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Department of Finance Phishing Scam

Summary:
Scam email purporting to be from Canada's Department of Finance claims that the recipient is eligible for a tax refund (Full commentary below).



Status:
False - the email is an attempt to steal personal information.

Example:(Submitted, January 2007)
From: Department of Finance

Subject: Notification - Please Read This.


After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $112.80. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it.

A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To access the form for your tax refund, please click here.[LINK REMOVED]

Regards,
Department of Finance Canada




Commentary:
This phishing scam email attempts to convince recipients that they are eligible for a tax refund from Canada's Department of Finance. A link in the scam email opens a fake web form that asks for sensitive personal information. Recipients are instructed to fill in this form in order to claim their "tax refund".

The email arrives complete with official looking Department of Finance logos, and formatting designed to make the message appear legitimate. However, the message does not originate from the Department of Finance. Information entered into the fake refund form can be collected by the scammers and subsequently used for fraud and identity theft. Department of Finance Canada has issued a Fraud Alert to warn Canadian Internet users about the scam, which states in part:
Some Canadians are receiving e-mails fraudulently identified as coming from the Department of Finance Canada that promise a tax refund if an appended form is filled in and returned.

The e-mail is not from the Department of Finance Canada. There is no such refund. Do NOT fill in the form, as it will compromise your credit card and social insurance information. If you receive this e-mail, simply delete it. We have already notified appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Although this particular scam is aimed at Canadian citizens, the same tactic has also been targeted at other nations. In 2005 and again in 2006, "tax refund" phishing scam emails falsely claiming to be from America's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) were directed at US citizens.

No legitimate government tax office is ever likely to inform citizens about a tax refund via an unsolicited email. Emails claiming to be from taxation departments or other government bodies should always be viewed with suspicion. Phishing scammers use a wide variety of tactics to fool victims into parting with their personal details. Be very cautious of any unsolicited email that asks you to click an included link and provide sensitive personal information such as banking or credit card details.

For more information about phishing scams, see:
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information

References:
E-mail Fraud Alert
IRS Refund Scam Email

Last updated: 11th January 2007
First published: 11th January 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen