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Tax break phishing scam aims to harvest details

Xmas scam season kicks off

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Fraudsters with their finger on the financial pulse have launched a scam designed to exploit interest in UK government tax breaks.

Scam emails doing the rounds pose as offers for "family maintenance". The messages appear to come from the non-existent "UK Government & Ministry of Finance" and offer a tax refund of between £450 to £650. Credulous marks are directed to a website, where they are invited to fill out information including age, marital status and number of children, which is harvested by crooks to build profiles for subsequent identity fraud scams.

The distribution of the scam messages was timed to coincide with the Chancellor's pre-budget statement on Monday. Samples of the scam email were intercepted by net security firm Sophos, which warns of a more general rise in scam frequency in the run-up to Christmas.

Analysis by Sophos researcher Vanja Svajcer revealed that the destination page for the tax break scam was put together in a rush using two pre-existing phishing kits.

"If this phishing gang wants higher return on their emails, they will have to improve the quality of their pages. They can still consider themselves the trend setters in the genre of government phishing, despite their unskillful work," Svajcer writes. ®

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