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IR-2018-119, May 10, 2018
Washington – The Internal Revenue Service today warned of a new twist tied to an old scam aimed at international taxpayers and non-resident aliens. In this scam, criminals use a fake IRS Form W-8BEN to solicit detailed personal identification and bank account information from victims.
Here's how the scam works. Criminals mail or fax a letter indicating that although individuals are exempt from withholding and reporting income tax, they need to authenticate their information by filling out a phony version of Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting. Recipients are requested to fax the information back.
The Form W-8BEN is a legitimate U.S. tax exemption document, however, it can only be submitted through a withholding agent. In the past, fraudsters have targeted non-residents of the U.S. using the form as a lure to get personal details such as passport numbers and PIN codes. The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN does not ask for any of that information. The phony letter or fax also refers to a Form W9095, which does not exist. Furthermore, the IRS doesn't require a recertification of foreign status. Click to read the full article.