By Teresa Ambord
It seems nobody is safe from the phishers. The AICPA works hard to keep readers aware of fraudulent e-mails from other sources. They themselves were recently used again in an attempt to hook new victims.
On December 7, 2012, the AICPA realized a fraudulent e-mail had gone out to numerous individuals, CPAs, non-CPAs, and members of the general public, purporting to be from the agency itself (no copy of the recent scam is available). Thieves used a replica of the AICPA banner to create a message warning recipients that they may have been involved in fraudulent income tax activity and may be subject to termination of licenses. As is common in phishing messages, recipients were instructed to click on a link the phisher provided in order to read the complaint and dispute it.
The AICPA wants to assure anyone receiving this e-mail that it is fraudulent, and the link should not be clicked. If you have received this message and clicked on the link, the agency advises you to run a full virus scan and to always keep your virus protection updated, even if you have not had a problem.
To get more information about this phishing expedition, you can speak to an AICPA specialist by calling (888) 777-7077 and choosing option 1.
Keep in mind, thieves work day and night to make fraudulent messages appear genuine. Earlier this year the AICPA logo was used in another scam message, warning recipients that they may have submitted a "misguided or fraudulent income tax return" for a client or employer. Recipients were advised they could read the complaint against them by clicking on a link and providing feedback before a deadline to avoid license suspension. Clicking on the link would take the victim to a compromised website that would attempt to download malware onto the victim's computer. The link was disguised with HTML coding so that it appeared to be a Word document.
Scammers count on creating panic in professional people, like CPAs who have much to lose if their licenses are suspended. Other recipients who are not CPAs may click on links out of curiosity or to take the opportunity to tell someone a mistake has been made.
Here is a copy of the scam message sent out earlier this year, which may have been similar to the latest attempt.
Subject: Income tax return fraud accusations
Date: February 22, 2012
You're receiving this message as a Certified Public Accountant and a member of AICPA.
Having trouble reading this e-mail? View it in your browser.
Termination of Public Account Status due to tax return fraud allegations
Valued AICPA member,
We have received a complaint about your possible participation in income tax return fraudulent activity on behalf of one of your employees. According to AICPA Bylaw Section 740 your Certified Public Accountant status can be revoked in case of the event of presenting of a incorrect or fraudulent income tax return for your client or employer.
Please familiarize yourself with the complaint below and respond to it within 14 days. The failure to provide the clarifications within this time-frame will result in suspension of your CPA license.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.