As tax deadline looms, Mumbaikars beware of this deadly ITR email scam

Aug 05, 2017, 08:10 IST | Vijay Kumar Yadav

Swindlers are sending mails to unsuspecting Mumbaikars using a fraudulent ID that has just one extra 'l' and can easily be mistaken for a genuine I-T department mail

Just because you are aware of all the latest ways cyber criminals are employing to cheat people, don't let your guard down. A new one is already floating around and has preyed on several - it involves an email purportedly sent by the Income Tax department and, under the guise of filing your returns, extracts important banking details from you, i.e. customer ID, password, etc, and makes you transfer money to a bank account.

Businessman Nilesh Desai, who alerted the police about the fraud
Businessman Nilesh Desai, who alerted the police about the fraud

At the end, people think their ITR filing has been done; not only is that not the case, but they have also ended up giving money to fraudsters and sharing sensitive information.

The fraud came to light when a Ghatkopar West-based businessman, Nilesh Desai, 50, received an email around a week ago. Sent from an address strikingly similar to the I-T department's DONOTREPLY@incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in, it told Desai that due to some internal mistake his TDS calculation had been done incorrectly, and after correction, he would get Rs 19,568 as refund. To claim the same, he would need to re-file his ITR by clicking on the link given at the end, it added. After Desai clicked on the link, a new window for payment gateway opened, asking for his netbanking details.

"I became suspicious, as no government department seeks netbanking details. So, I checked the email address; it was DONOTREPLY@incometaxindiaefilling.gov.in. There was an extra 'l'! I called the I-T department headquarters in Bengaluru and inquired about the spelling error. When they told me that in their email address there was only one 'l', I knew my suspicion was right," he said.

"I played along... I clicked on the link and put in incorrect customer ID, password, bank account numbers and other details sought. After collecting all the data, the system sent me another email that said my returns had been filed and the refund would be credited in my account."

Cops on alert
Desai then called up the office of the commissioner of police, Mumbai, and narrated the incident. He was directed to Deputy Commissioner of Police (cyber) Akbar Pathan. The police have initiated an inquiry into the matter.

"This kind of a fraud is known as phishing or email spoofing," said an officer from the cyber crime department.

Pathan said, "People shouldn't click on any links received from unknown or suspicious sources. More often than not, they lead to compromise of sensitive information."

Officers added that the fraudsters were targeting those who had not filed their ITR as well as those who had. To the latter, the email sent stated that the department, after verification, had found that more payment needed to be made towards their ITR by the due date. The police said those who had not filed ITR online before were the most vulnerable to this.

Take note
Tax consultant S Nalawade explained that for filing ITR one does not need to pay any money through any link to the I-T department. "If a person is filing ITR online, s/he needs to visit the I-T website, fill a form or challan, detailing the investments. Once that's done, the system generates a reference number. If any penalty is imposed or any dues are detected by the system, the required payment can be made at a local bank, or one can pay online using the reference number of the challan," he said.

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