Last year in October, Moneylife had warned that the fraudulent emails in circulation at that time claiming to offer you a tax refund were only test mail and were bound to be refined in the future. Recent scam mails, with the I-T Dept image, the Indian national emblem and other details are proof of what we had predicted
It seems that fraudsters are again on the online prowl for new targets. Only this time, they are asking for your bank name, card number, its expiration date, card verification number (CVN) and last but most important—your ATM PIN. Yes, it’s true—many people have received an email ostensibly from the Indian Income-Tax (I-T) Department, offering online refund on tax paid.
In October 2009, Moneylife had reported on the new scam, taking place over the Internet (see here). Then, fraudsters wanted you to visit their website (fasterners.ru) probably to test their system! This time, they have come up with a novel idea to collect personal information by directly mimicking the I-T Department's website.
The look of the fraudulent website is so similar to the original website of the I-T Department (incometaxindia.gov.in) that many people are likely to be fooled easily.
This time, fraudsters are directly asking you to submit details like cardholder name, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, address, phone number and what’s stunning is your bank name, card number, expiration date, CVN and ATM PIN! Your card number (16 digits), CVN (three digits) and ATM PIN (four digits) are most essential for any transaction and with you readily (!) offering this info to fraudsters, they can easily make you penniless within minutes.
I tried checking the fake website used by these fraudsters (188.8.131.52) and according to Whois.com, the Internet protocol (IP) address belongs to Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), PO Box 10096, Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Last time it was from Russia.
RIPE NCC, in a mail to Moneylife, said according to its database the IP address mentioned above is registered to a local Internet registry (LIR). RIPE NCC as a Regional Internet Registry (RIR) allocates IP addresses to its members based on need. LIRs then further assign address space to their customers. “The RIPE NCC has no legal control over the activities of an LIR or their customers. The RIPE NCC does audit its members but only with regards to their compliance with RIPE policies,” the e-mail from Lucie Smith, senior client manager, Racepoint Group UK said.
The fraudsters, who want to return your IT refund however, seem to have fallen in love with the figure. They still love to use 820.50 Rupees instead of Rs or rupees 820.50. In addition, the addressing remains poor. The fraudsters this time have used "Dear applicant", while our own I-T Department uses "Dear Taxpayer" and not “applicant”.
The email reads, "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."
Last time we had warned that with the Indian I-T Department encouraging taxpayers to file their returns online, email fraud is bound to proliferate and trap the gullible. On their part, the I-T Department issued a release asking taxpayers not to give personal details like PAN card number and information about their credit/debit cards over the Internet.
If you receive such mails, do not pay any heed and simply mark them as "spam" and press delete.