Email Scam Uses U.S. Stimulus Bill as Bait

Fraudsters are using the logo of the Internal Revenue Service combined with the promise of federal stimulus money to dupe cash-strapped people into divulging credit-card information to a phony Web site, the International Trademark Association said.

It’s the latest example of attempted identity theft rising amid the current economic turmoil, hitting a range of areas from mortgages to tax returns.

“It’s unfortunate, but we are seeing counterfeiters take advantage of people at the worst time, economically speaking,” said Alan Drewsen, the group’s executive director. “We want people to remain vigilant online.”

The so-called “phishing” email, which also displays photos of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, claims to offer people their portion of the recently approved stimulus bill. Recipients are instructed to click an email link and enter their personal financial information into a counterfeit Web site, the association said.

Such scams “are effective because they take advantage of a consumer’s relationship with a trademark, brand or logo — in this case, the governmental brand of the U.S. president and the IRS,” the group said.

The Federal Trade Commission says the IRS doesn’t ask for personal information via email. It urges consumers to forward any such email — unopened — to, then delete it immediately.


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