IRS spam hits inboxes: Message Labs

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Spammers are taking advantage of the approaching tax season with a new outbreak of fraudulent e-mails about taxes, according to e-mail services firm Message Labs.

In January the e-mail firm noted that IRS related spam rose 10%, from just under 1% of spam to 6% of all spam.

These fraudulent tax related e-mails appear to come from the IRS's Web site, http://www.irs.gov/, but is actually a fake site hosted by spammers on domains originating in Russia and other former Soviet countries.

“They are working to convince consumers that these e-mails are real by making it seem like a real IRS site,” said Paul Wood, senior analyst at MessageLabs.

All links within these e-mails go to two or three phishing pages. If a recipient clicks on the link and completes the form requesting personal and financial information, the site then redirects to the actual IRS Web site.

“Some of these e-mails we've intercepted have a person's name in them. Having these kinds of personal details make it more convincing,” Wood added.

The scam has remained steady since its outbreak last month. Other spam trends that MessageLabs detected in January include spam made to look like it is from a social networking site and spam with links to search engines. The search engine spam comes with keywords, so that if a recipient clicks on the link in the e-mail to Google or Yahoo, the keywords that make the spam site rise to the top are entered, making it look legitimate.

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