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Form W-8BEN from the Internal Revenue Service is a scam

Law firms around New Zealand have been receiving a fax which purports to come from the Australian Department of the Treasury's Internal Revenue Service.

The 2-page fax appears to be aimed at Australians, but has been received by a number of New Zealand law firms and organisations.

The fax is a scam which tries to extract personal and bank account information.

The accompanying letter begins: "Dear Sir, Our records indicate that you are a non-resident alien. As a result, you are exempted from Australia 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."

The letter then asks the recipient to return an accompanying form by fax to an Australian number. It also says "If you are an Australian Citizen and resident, this form W-8BEN is not meant for you, please indicate "Australian Citizen/Resident on the form and return it to us. We shall then send you a form W9095."

The form has been adapted by from United States scam which uses an identical form (which has been amended to replace "For United States Tax Withholding" with "For Australia tax Withholding" (see for further information about the American scam).

The current scam appears to be a clumsy attempt to adapt the American scam for use in obtaining personal information and bank account information.

A copy of the fax is available below. 


Last updated on the 9th March 2012