Dan Hendrickson, at the Better Business Bureau, says the criminals are disguising themselves as top executives through email, requesting information from various accounting and HR departments.
“They’ll make a request like, ‘Hey, I need to see the W-2 forms for all of our employees. I’ll also need their Social Security numbers and their birthdates,’ and in some cases, we’ve seen people in these positions have turned over this information,” Hendrickson says. “They were thinking they were just following orders, but in fact, they were helping a scammer perpetrate a crime.”
Hendrickson says the W-2 scam first came to light in 2016. He says employers should warn members of their staff about this scam, especially since it may be taken to the next level as the presumed executive asks for a cash advance.
“They have a procedure in place to verify all requests asking for sensitive information, especially wire transfers of money,” he says. “Obviously, with these kinds of things, you want to be absolutely sure they are legitimate.”
Hendrickson says criminals are focusing on consumers’ personal information because it has a potentially larger payout then credit card fraud.