Your A/C no. 0000XYZ is credited with INR 32,458.00 to settle down the pending Income Tax Return (ITR).
Your phone beeps and flashes a message which claims to be from the Income Tax (IT) department of India.
You are surprised yet happy because either you haven’t filled any return or you already have received that return.
In your mind, you have already kickstarted planning as to how to spend the money which was deposited in the bank account as an unexpected bonus.
Wait, don’t do that; it could possibly be a scam and you are the targeted victim of erroneous refund scam!!!
What is Erroneous Refund Scam?
It all starts as an erroneous return which a Taxpayer receives in their bank account.
Criminals collect personal data of a taxpayer from various sources, which sometimes also include government officials (Jolted? Yes, your data is not safe).
The data includes sensitive information such as bank account details, PAN number and personal details such as name, address, etc.
With the help of the looted data, conman then targets the victims by making a fraudulent tax return on their name.
The victim receives the fraudulent return in the bank account or sometimes as a cheque.
Scammers then call the victim and pretend to be from IT Department claiming that the deposited refund was done out of error.
Criminals then force the victim to return the erroneous refund either by cheque or by transferring it to the bank account mentioned in the email or on phone.
What next? The ‘real’ Government Officials contact the victim to inquire about the claimed return!!!
Yesss, You could not Retrieve your money or pain! It’s too late now..
But You can Still, Alert your fellow citizens with your painful experience regarding this Tax Scam.
Who knows, The next victim might be from one of your Family, Friend or a Client. Don’t let it Go Away!
Victims of Erroneous Refund Scam
- PAN card holders
- Online banking users
Case Study- The Employee who turned into a Criminal
The IT Department caught Kulwant Singh, a data entry operator in the department, in April 2018, of IT Department, for committing fraud.
The scammer came into notice when the IT department noticed a suspicious activity of higher refund claims, compared to the previous year.
Kulwant, along with a taxation lawyer, Ashish Agrawal, were claiming fraudulent tax returns with the help of the data.
The case targetted 300 people and surprisingly some victims were not under any tax slabs.
Kulwant then asked the victims to deposit the erroneous refund in his own bank account. He bagged the advantage of being an IT department employee.
The irony of this case is the people involved in it (Lawyer & Govt. employee), who are amongst the trusted ones.
We are becoming more vital to frauds and scams, which mandates the need for becoming vigilant and cautious about our Identity & information.
Yesss, We Defend Frauds could not Retrieve your money or pain!
But We can Still, Alert your fellow citizens with your painful experience regarding this Tax Scam.
Who knows, The next victim might be from one of your Family, Friend or a Client. Don’t let it Happen!
Erroneous Tax Refund Scam: Prevention Tips
- Always avoid the money, this will make things even worst.
- Contacting the IT Department directly to figure out the matter, will be a great move.
- Following the channel; any government process is all about filling forms this is the proper channel even in case of refund of any erroneous return.
- Don’t write a cheque or pay the refund back, into a personal bank account.
Bonus Tip: Spot these behaviours
- The scammers will make a call to threaten you with criminal fraud charges or an arrest warrant.
- They will freeze your bank accounts (only in rare cases) to make it look real.
- They will ask you to deposit the money via cheque or will give you a personal bank account number.
Would you like it if someone snatches the money from your pocket?
If not, then let us know about the prevention steps, in comments. If you or anyone you know, have encountered fraud, report it with us.