Apr 6, 2017

Tax scammers' $5.8 billion heist

Christopher Schirner via Flickr CC

One-third of Americans file their taxes after April 1st, according to IBM X-Force research, and scammers are taking advantage of the high traffic in tax-filing season to steal W-2 forms. From just December to February there was a 6000% rise in "tax-related spam emails" sent to Americans.

Why it matters: To put that in context, in 2016 the IRS paid out about $5.8 billion in fraudulent tax returns. Tips for protecting your sensitive information include filing early and signing up for a pin from the IRS. Remember, the IRS won't email for personal information in tax return forms.

Why tax files? Because tax filings are forever, as Bloomberg reports. Stealing credit card information can only be a short-term scam since cards are often canceled at the first sign of trouble. In comparison, the information in tax filing reforms is useful for the long haul — filing for loans, trying to get credit, making fake IDs.

The emails: They're phishing emails; they look like tax software companies' emails or executives' emails requesting W-2 information so that people send sensitive information.

The easy way out: Scammers are bulk-selling W-2 forms now "for those lazy identity thieves who can't be bothered to phish or steal the needed data" to file for tax returns that aren't their own, according to the Krebs Security blog. W-2 forms sell for about $50 a pop in the Dark Web.

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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