Iowans are being warned of several taxpayer related e-mail scams operated by identity thieves. Christopher Miller, spokesperson with the Internal Revenue Service, says the e-mails claim to come from the I.R.S. and usually lure victims by telling them they’re due a refund or stimulus payment.

The e-mail often includes an attached form that the recipient is asked to fill out and return. "Don’t fall for it, it’s a scam," Miller said. The scam operators have apparently ramped-up their efforts now – as Americans prepare to fill out their 2008 tax returns. "The I.R.S. does not initiate taxpayer communication through e-mail," Miller says, "and we never request detailed personal information like pin numbers or bank account numbers over the internet."

Miller says some taxpayers are apparently falling for the scam because the same e-mails pop up year after year. "We don’t have any firm numbers on how many people have fallen victim to these scams, but it’s reasonable to assume that (the scam operators) have some success or they wouldn’t continue to be viable," Miller said. If you receive an e-mail that looks like it’s from the I.R.S., Miller says to handle it with care.

"Don’t reply and don’t open any attachments because they can contain malicious code that will infect your computer or steal information," Miller said. Investigators are working to break up the scam operation. Recipients are encouraged to relay the e-mail to the I.R.S. using the e-mail address [email protected].