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Manufacturing & Distribution Client Advisory - February 2017  Print PDF

By Nicole J. Harrell

Don’t Fall Victim to the W-2 Scam
By Nicole Harrell

One of the easiest ways for a criminal to obtain personal data is to have you send it directly to them, and criminals are obtaining thousands of Social Security numbers, names, addresses and wage information from well-meaning employees. They use that information to file fraudulent tax returns. Here’s how it works –

The criminals spoof the email address of the CEO, President or other executive. They will then send an email that appears to be from the executive to another employee. The email will ask the employee to send all of the W-2 statements from last year in a PDF so the sender can review them. At first glance the email address appears to be legitimate, but upon closer look it’s actually an account outside of the company. When the employee replies with all of the requested information, the criminal now has the W-2 statements containing Social Security Numbers, names and addresses for every company employee and some former employees.

Beware of emails that contain language similar to any of the following –

  • “Kindly send me the individual 2016 W-2 and earnings summary for all W-2 staff for a quick review.” 
  • “Can you send me the updated list of employees with name, date of birth, home address, social security number and salary?” 
  • “I want you to send me the list of W-2 employees wage and tax statements for 2016. I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me ASAP.”

We urge you to educate your employees about this scam.

If you received one of these emails and replied with the information, please contact Nicole Harrell by phone at 757.624.3306 or by email at njharrell@kaufcan.com as there are immediate actions that you must take to inform your employees and former employees.