When we talk about IRS scams, we’re usually referring to chain-smoking Indian dudes packed into a dingy call center trying to scam Google Play cards out of your grandma. Although few Americans might say they trust the IRS, I think we can all agree that at the end of the day, an overwhelming number of […]
Given that this is a website written for accounting professionals and not, say, confused grandmas who think Steam cards are a valid form of payment for debts to the U.S. government, we rarely cover the topic of IRS phone scams. We assume, perhaps naively, that y’all are smarter than that and don’t need reminding. The […]
Never trust anyone online wearing a hoodie. Good night, nurse, what is this: Executives at UHY Advisors are sounding the alarm about online scammers who have been impersonating recruiters at accounting firms, offering enthusiastic young job seekers new career opportunities and internships. All the applicant must do, scammers tell them, is sign an acceptance letter […]
Figuring they can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, a few IRS crank yankers have switched up their MO: Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return […]
Wealthy athletes are easy to scam. Really easy. Not all athletes know how to handle a fortune. Wealthy athletes are good at playing sports, not managing their millions. We financial types who know how to do sexy stuff like add (er, ten key and use spreadsheets) have a duty to protect the investor –- even […]
The Journal of Accountancy's unnecessarily dramatic headline — Limit on direct deposit of refunds will go into effect in 2015 — doesn't quite capture what's really going on here. What's really going on here is that the IRS wants to limit those who have lots of refunds put in their account. Presumably, a taxpayer should […]
As the multibillion-dollar scheme led by Tom Petters approaches its sixth anniversary, the meter is still running for the lawyers and accountants sorting through the corporate empire created by the former Wayzata businessman, and the array of creditors and investors who did business with him. More than $83 million has been paid to the lawyers […]
Despite having warned taxpayers over and over that the IRS does not and will not call you and demand you wire over some cash, apparently some people are still falling for this. So much so that TIGTA felt compelled to send out a friendly reminder: The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) today issued […]
As far as scams go, I have to say these kinds of scams are pretty bad. Preying on desperate people who have nothing left to live for and therefore are applying at KPMG job applicants with high hopes of Big 4 employment and bilking them out of untold sums of money with fake offer letters […]
If you're in Detroit and had your picture taken recently with a guy who you thought was eye-candy actor Ryan Gosling, you should know that it was simply a tax accountant who looks quite a bit like eye-candy actor Ryan Gosling. It just so happens that when this tax accountant, Doug, wears sunglasses and a […]
In these troubled times, it makes sense to pinch pennies whenever possible. I managed to find an oil change place to regularly give me half off on my $90+ synthetic oil only service just by being charming, personable and – presumably – a chick. Some of us clip coupons. Others haggle (you guys should be […]
When someone of the debit and credit arts is functioning in its natural habitat (e.g. a cubicle farm), instincts are acute. Within these walls, all it takes is one glance at a schedule of figures and even the youngest accountants can spot something amiss. "That Excel formula has a circular reference," one might say, or […]
34-year-old IRS employee Patricia Fountain and her 39-year-old boyfriend Larry Ishmael were arrested last Wednesday and charged with defrauding the federal government in a tax refund scam in which Fountain allegedly used her position with the IRS to rip off unsuspecting taxpayers. Patty the bad IRS employee has been charged with conspiring to file false […]
The helpful folks at the IRS are warning seniors and other high-risk taxpayers of a new scam that lures those people into filing fraudulent tax returns. Though GC readers are obviously far too sophisticated to fall for any kinds of schemes like this, it's worth sharing anyway. The scheme tempts people with little or no […]
What’s most interesting about this particular scam is that it involved more people – 55 – than some accounting firms’ entire headcount.
A grand jury has indicted 55 people for participating in scams that tried to bilk the government out of more than $250 million in undeserved tax refunds, prosecutors in California said on Monday. Thirty-two indictments were returned by the grand jury accusing the people of various schemes to obtain the refunds. Millions of dollars were paid out, including a check worth almost $1.2 million, the prosecutors said. The owners of one California company were accused of making presentations that claimed customers could get tax refunds from a “secret government account” after making payments to the company and agreeing to pay a percentage of any refunds they received, the prosecutors said.
I Pass the CPA Exam was asked if a $799 “Becker” program being sold online could possibly be legit. After asking the owner of the site peddling the stuff, Stephanie asks Becker directly if they allow affiliates to sell their product wholesale to other retailers so they, in turn, can cut the price. Something about this just doesn’t seem right, why would Becker want to get ripped off on its own product, which it routinely sells for $3,000 (give or take)?
When in doubt, maybe you should ask the review course:
I continue my due diligence and ask Becker directly whether the serial number from CPApassmaster would indeed verifiable at their site. This is their answer:
“The only legal site for Becker material is www.becker.com.”
Well, I would appreciate if Becker can just be a little bit more helpful in terms of explaining this further, but knowing how Becker is (big and institutionalized with little “real” customer service), this is probably the best we can get.
Then, I heard from industry sources that in fact Becker is trying to stop this offering via an injunction, and supposedly Becker can render all their materials with serial number from this reseller unverifiable if / when they are allowed to do that.
Interesting. I agree with Stephanie’s assessment that whoever she spoke to at Becker is probably just some hack in a headset who barely knows what the CPA exam is, let alone is high up enough to actually comment on their policies.
It would be interesting to hear this directly from, say, a Becker high up. Hint, hint. Perhaps a qualified Becker manager would like to get in touch and clear the air.
UPDATE: Becker spokesperson Molly Tarantino wrote me last night to clarify Becker’s policy on unauthorized dealers. Please consider her comments before going for a cheap review course that is NOT offered directly from the company:
Becker Professional Education does not support materials purchased through unauthorized dealers. Only materials received directly from us are guaranteed to be authentic. Unauthorized dealers, such as CPAPassmaster, are either in violation of their license with Becker or selling counterfeit materials. Counterfeiting is illegal and purchasing counterfeit products supports this illegal activity. This type of activity is especially troubling since it is occurring within a profession whose foundation has always been and always will be based on ethics and integrity.
With tax season over, scam season has begun and the IRS wants to be sure that you know they will never send you unsolicited e-mails or request identifying information about you a la PayPal scams. Because, you know, they’re helpful like that. Since many of you are waiting patiently by your mailbox (or bank statement if you E-filed for direct deposit) for your refund checks, it’s all that much more important to be on the lookout for these kinds of tricks hitting your inbox.
Protect yourself, little taxpayer, and know that the IRS is here to help make sure you don’t get scammed by unscrupulous impersonators:
The IRS does not send taxpayers unsolicited e-mails about their tax accounts, tax situations or personal tax issues. If you receive such an e-mail, most likely it’s a scam.
IRS impersonation schemes flourish during filing season. These schemes may take place via phone, fax, Internet sites, social networking sites and particularly e-mail.
Many impersonations are identity theft scams that try to trick victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to access their financial accounts. Some e-mail scams contain attachments or links that, when clicked, download malicous code (virus) that infects your computer or direct you to a bogus form or site posing as a genuine IRS form or Web site.
Some impersonations may be commercial Internet sites that consumers unknowingly visit, thinking they’re accessing the genuine IRS Web site, IRS.gov. However, such sites have no connection to the IRS.
IRS Spokesperson Jennifer Henrie-Brown gave us a few tips for avoiding scams and reporting sketchy e-mails to the Service to combat the spamming problem: “The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail and does not request detailed personal or financial information through email. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, you should not reply. Do not open any attachments or click on any links. Doing so may download malware that can damage your computer or allow remote access to your hard drive,” she told us.
What do you do if you get one of these weird, misspelled, bad-grammar-infested fake e-mails claiming to be from the IRS? “If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the IRS, or Web addresses that do not begin with http://www.irs.gov, you can relay that email to IRS mailbox firstname.lastname@example.org. IRS can use the information URLs and links in the suspcious emails you sent to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites.”
Suggested reading: Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS [IRS]
That the First-time Homebuyers Credit is riddled with fraud is old news. Like all refundable credits, where the government writes you a check if the credit exceeds the tax shown on your return, it’s a magnet for grifters. What’s new is cross-agency efforts enable First-Time Homebuyer Credit fraud, with video.
James O’Keefe, notorious for donning pimpwear and taping ACORN officials happily facilitating tax fraud and child prostitution, and then for getting arrested in Louisiana, took his act to Detroit and Chicago offices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posing as a tax credit scammer. One conversation went like this:
The law says that the tax credit maxes out at $8,000 for an $80,000 home. On the tape, O’Keefe asked a staffer, “What if I bought a place for $50,000, but the seller and I agreed to write down $80,000 as the purchase price?”
“Flip it any way you want,” the staffer replied.
What if the place is worth much less — like only $6,000?
“Yup, you can do that.”
This version of the Homebuyer Credit scam can get around the checks the IRS has in place to prevent fraud. The primary IRS anti-fraud check for the homebuyer credit is a requirement that a copy of an HUD-1 form or settlement statement be attached to the 1040 claiming the credit. If the buyer and seller collude to dummy up a HUD-1 form, the “buyer” is reasonably likely to get the credit as long as there isn’t some other item on the return that flags it – such as an address that’s different from the one for the “home” on the settlement statement.
The scammers wouldn’t be out of the woods by any means. The IRS might well catch up with the scammers. But then again, they might not, or if they did, the money could be long gone. For someone living in in a Detroit neighborhood where houses sell for as little as $1,000, splitting $8,000 with a scammer might be one of the less-risky opportunities at hand.