Phishers target taxpayers

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As the start of the tax filing season draws near, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is again warning taxpayers not to fall victim to a phising scam promising them a refund.

On its Web site, SARS warns taxpayers about the scam, which is e-mailed to taxpayers “purportedly from SARS”. The subject line is “Tax refund” and taxpayers are requested to send their bank details to the address

“Please note this e-mail is a hoax and on no account should taxpayers provide their banking details as requested in the e-mail,” warns the revenue service.

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says phishing scams are continually evolving and, while he does not know how many people have been affected by these scams, he knows of several people who have almost been reeled in.

The SARS scam seems to have started about three or four years ago, and has evolved from a simple telephone or fax scam into one that tries to deceive people into providing banking information online, he explains.

Goldstuck says taxpayers should realise there is “something phishy” when an institution like SARS, which would have all people's details, asks for banking information.

SARS says “a large number of South Africans were randomly e-mailed a 'spoofed' e-mail from a forged e-mail address,, indicating they were eligible to receive their tax refund”.

Goldstuck says it is a pity that scammers do not use their talents to contribute to the digital economy rather than for criminal reasons.

Fortunately, the Web site that the fake e-mail - displayed on the SARS Web site - links to has since been closed. A screen shot is, however, still available on the SARS Web site.

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