Email scams have spread to taxation, with Singaporeans being targeted by criminals making false tax demands.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has had to warn taxpayers to beware of fake emails and letters that appear to come from the IRAS and request transfer of money, usually to an overseas bank account.
The emails are similar to ones that have been sent to American taxpayers, purportedly from the US Internal Revenue Service, and are a variation on the Nigerian scams, where fraudsters in Nigeria who claim to have large amounts of money abroad contact foreigners asking for their bank account details. The aim is to get bank account details so they can steal the money in the accounts.
IRAS says the emails typically ask the taxpayer to:
• Follow an email link to review their tax statement in relation to unreported/underreported income.
• Transfer a sum of money, supposedly for tax purposes, to an account belonging to a named individual (usually to an overseas account.)
• Pay over a sum of money to a named individual (usually a party not residing in Singapore) before an inheritance/estate of a deceased party is released.
• Provide confidential personal information such as personal particulars, identification numbers and bank account numbers.
The emails often carry the Authority’s logo and address and sometimes even the names of its officials.
Although they can look genuine, the authority says any of its official emails will be sent from addresses ending with @iras.gov.sg and not from personal email accounts such as hotmail or gmail.
It adds that any payments made by cheque to the Authority would have to be addressed to: the comptroller of income tax, comptroller of goods and services tax, comptroller of property tax or the commissioner of stamp duties.
It advises people not to follow any links within an email if they suspect it is fraudulent, and not to respond to it or disclose any details. Singaporeans can forward the email or documents to the Authority for it to verify.