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Weekend Web Tip 

I received an email today from "Department of the Treasury," at, announcing that the government owes me money. No, I'm not a bank or an automaker — I am the recipient of spam.

How do I know this email is spam? Here's the text. See if you can spot the clues:

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Tax refund value is $189.60.
Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to IWP the data received.If u don't receive your refund within 9 business days from the original IRS mailing date shown, you can start a refund trace online.
If you distribute funds to other organization, your records must show wether they are exempt under section 497 (c) (15). In cases where the recipient org. is not exempt under section 497 (c) (15), you must have evidence the funds will be used for section 497 (c) (15) purposes.If you distribute fund to individuals, you should keep case histories showing the recipient's name and address; the purpose of the award; the maner of section; and the realtionship of the recipient to any of your officers, directors, trustees, members, or major contributors.
To access the form for your tax refund, please click here [I've removed the link].

This notification has been sent by the Internal Revenue Service, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.

Sincerely Yours,
John Stewart
Director, Exempt. Organization
Rulings and Agreements Letter
Internal Revenue Service

Spam clues I found (other than the fact that I've already received my 2008 refund):

  1. The sender's email address is The IRS domain name is
  2. The text is written using two different font sizes.
  3. The tax code, 501(c)(3), denotes a nonprofit organization.
  4. There are multiple misspellings in the tax code info ("wether" "maner" "realtionship").
  5. Since when does the government replace "you" with "u" in a formal email about money?

Were there any I missed? Please let me know.

I shudder to think that anyone would actually fall for this, but stranger things have happened. Consider this a public service announcement.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

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About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer is a former staff writer and currently an associate publisher at Seven Days, and is one of the organizers of the Vermont Tech Jam. She's also the Copublisher and Executive Editor of Kids VT, Seven Days' free monthly parenting publication.


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