Beware: Tax scammers out phishing

Carin Smith
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Cape Town – The new tax season has opened and fraudsters are having a ball, conjuring up emails claiming to be from the South African Revenue Service (Sars) which look very professional and could fool many taxpayers.

In their emails to unsuspecting taxpayers, the “Sars scammers” are starting to mention refund amounts that make sense to the individuals they target.

Fin24 has been inundated by responses from users who have been “hit” by these fraudsters.

“What I find scary, is that the amount they mentioned in the fake email is just about as much as my Sars refund was last year. Maybe it becomes even more sinister if it might even be possible that they have access to the Sars database,” wrote a Fin24 user.

Another Fin24 user wrote that in the scam email she received from “Sars” it said she had to respond by clicking on a link, because Sars had not been able to get hold of her by phone. Yet another Fin24 user receives these “Sars” letter on a monthly basis.

Some fraudster are becoming very innovative with the "from" e-mail address; other addresses immediately look suspicious.

Examples are
e-filing@sars.co.za; message@e.sars.org.za; serv@e.filling.za; efiling@c.confirm.za and pmts@e-service.org.za, none of which is the official Sars email address.

One Fin24 user has already received four emails from "Sars", claiming that over R9 000 is owing to him.

All he needed to do was provide his bank/credit card details to receive his 'refund' within 48 hours.

He writes: "We need to be extra careful... can be so tempting (if one is broke) to just find out that by some miracle the email is legit.. tough world we live in today!"

According to Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay, taxpayers must ignore these fake notifications.

“On our Sars website - Sars.gov.za - we have put up examples of these fake notifications. First obtain verification from the Sars call centre or a branch, for instance. Never give out any details in response to these fake communications,” said Lackay.

Taxpayers who file electronically can expect an instantaneous notification about the outcome, while those who file at a Sars branch will usually get notified 24 to 48 hours later.

Meanwhile, activity by taxpayers and tax practitioners on the eFiling site continues to reach new levels. On Tuesday more than 320 000 log-ins onto the site was recorded, with more than 300 000 recorded on Monday.

The highest number of log-ins per day during 2012 was 266 000.

Since the weekend, over 250 000 returns were issued on eFiling to taxpayers and tax practitioners (94 000 returns on Tuesday).

So far during the current tax season more than 88 000 taxpayers have received refunds totalling R646m.

- Fin24

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