Some Costa Rican professionals have reported that they have been targeted by scammers who pretend to be from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
The Costa Ricans have received emails titled “Request for Recertification of Foreign Status.” The goal of the scammers is to obtain personal data including bank account information from their victims. Says the email:
“Our records indicate that you are a non-resident alien. As a result, you are exempted from United States of America tax reporting and withholdings, on interest paid you on your account and other financial dealing to protect your exemption from tax on your account and other financial benefit in rectifying your exemption status. Therefore, you are to authenticate the following by completing form W-8BEN, and return to us as soon as possible . . . ”
The victim is asked to fax the completed form to a U.S. telephone number. The emails received this week also seem to have originated in the States. With all the data, the scammer could easily impersonate those who respond and perhaps open bank accounts or credit card account in their names.
The scam in this form has been around since at least 2008, a check of the Internet shows. The email relies on the general fear individuals have of the IRS, the U.S. tax agency, even though that agency does not send such emails.