New Ransomware Scam Impersonates IRS, FBI

The IRS warned people to avoid a new phishing scam that impersonates the IRS and the FBI in attempt to hack personal computers and take them hostage.

by The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa. / August 29, 2017
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(TNS) -- The Internal Revenue Service Monday warned people to avoid a new phishing scam that impersonates the IRS and the FBI, as part of a ransomware scam to take the computer data hostage.

The IRS said the scam email uses the emblem of both the IRS and the FBI and tries to entice users to select a "here" link to download a fake FBI questionnaire.

Instead, the link downloads a certain type of malware called ransomware that prevents users from accessing data stored on their device unless they pay money to the scammers.

“This is a new twist on an old scheme,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a news release. “People should stay vigilant against email scams that try to impersonate the IRS and other agencies that try to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. People with a tax issue won’t get their first contact from the IRS with a threatening email or phone call."

The IRS said victims of such scams should not pay a ransom. Paying it will only further encourage the perpetrators, and frequently the scammers will not provide the decryption key even after the ransom is paid.

Those who are victims of a ransomware attack should report it to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov, and forward any IRS-themed scams to phishing@irs.gov.

©2017 The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.