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Warning: US Income Tax E-mail Contains Malware

Feb 04, 2013

There’s a new breed of tax fraud lurking and that’s stealing your personal info!

Hackers will do just about anything to steal your personal data and this Trojan horse proves just how smart they can be.  E-mail account users were fooled into clicking on a personalized zip file containing an infected tax W-2 form, which is normally provided to employees to help calculate earnings. The U.S. deadline for employers is January 31st to deliver the tax related forms and hackers wasted no time in hopping on the band wagon to send this malicious e-mail out.

Below is a sample of what the e-mail looked like:

Subject: “FW: 2010 and 2011 Tax Documents; Accounts Letter”


“I forward this file for your review. Please open and view it.

Attached are Individual Income Tax Returns and W-2s’s for 2010 and 2011, plus an accountant’s letter.

This email message may include single or multiple files attachments of varying types. It has been MIME encoded for Internet e-mail transmission.”

The zip file itself, named after the recipient, contained another filed called “Individual Income Returns.exe”. Once users unlocked and clicked on it, the Trojan horse was released, security was breached, and in turn, allowed hackers to snoop around their computer. An all access pass was granted to steal  passwords, private data, and even online accounts without the users knowledge. 

Let this be a lesson learned that we all need to be weary of suspicious unusual e-mails, as well as ones that may appear legitimate. It’s also a good idea to check the senders e-mail address, to see if it is legitimate. Often, the e-mail will look good, but then the sender will have a different e-mail such as; hotmail or a gmail account, which is a red flag if your employer does not support it. If you are still uncertain, it is advised you actually call the organization to confirm the e-mail before opening any files.

Most importantly, keep your personal security watch up-to-date with the latest version available. Most admit when the “Update Now” pop up appears, many click “Not now” or “Do it later“.


Rachel Gilliland

Toronto Professional Services Team


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