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Alert: Businesses targeted by tax scam

Alert: Businesses targeted by tax scam

Business is pretty brisk at the Urban Beans Bar in central Phoenix. It's a 24-hour cafe that employs around 20 people.

"What can I get for you today?" Virginia Senior said.

Senior owns the business which attracts a wide variety of customers. In fact, on this day, we even got a glimpse of Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi and her wife Penny Taylor.

Besides staying busy at the front counter, Senior is active behind the scenes getting ready for the tax season.

For example, she has to get W-2 forms out to all of her workers.

"We take it very seriously because when we have employees fill out forms we know that they have very sensitive information like their Social Security number, their address," Senior said.

And all that information can be a treasure trove for scammers. That's why the IRS is warning Valley businesses to be on the lookout for a tax scheme called the "Form W-2 Scam" claiming it has "...emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails in the tax community."

"It's really important not to fall prey for these scams," Senior said.

Senior says various scammers have already tried to target Urban Beans in the past but were unsuccessful.

So, here's how the Form W-2 Scam works: Cybercriminals pose as a high-ranking executive within the corporation and emails the business manager asking for copies of all the legitimate W-2s belonging to employees. Remember, Senior reminds us those documents contain all kinds of sensitive information about the employee.

"It's terrible," she said.

Crooks then take that personal information and sell it on the dark web.

"It’s very concerning. Luckily, nobody but myself and my partner has [sic] access to that information," Senior said.

According to the IRS, employers across the country fell victim to the scam last year which resulted in hundreds of thousands of employees who had their identities compromised.

Senior hopes businesses won't fall for it this year.

"I think if people are working that hard to scam, they should work that hard to do an honest day’s work," Senior said.

By the way, the scam also targets school districts and their payroll departments.


The IRS established a special email notification address specifically for employers to report Form W-2 data thefts. Here’s how Form W-2 scam victims can notify the IRS:

  • Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to notify the IRS of a Form W-2 data loss and provide contact information, as listed below.
  • In the subject line, type “W2 Data Loss” so that the email can be routed properly. Do not attach any employee personally identifiable information data.
  • Include the following:
    • Business name
    • Business employer identification number (EIN) associated with the data loss
    • Contact name
    • Contact phone number
    • Summary of how the data loss occurred
    • Volume of employees impacted

Businesses and organizations that fall victim to the scam and/or organizations that only receive a suspect email but do not fall victim to the scam should send the full email headers to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and use “W2 Scam” in the subject line. 

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Saturday, 15 June 2024

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