Monarch Beverage falls victim to phishing scam, employees’ W-2 forms compromised

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — For the second time in one week, another Indianapolis company becomes a victim of a scam, involving employees and their W-2 tax forms.

The most recent incident happened at Monarch Beverage, which is a wine and beer distributor. The company said an employee sent W-2 forms to scammers.

Monarch Beverage discovered the mistake last week and said scammers posed as the CEO in an email sent in late January and requested 2016 W-2. The company said the email looked legitimate so the employee responded with the documents on the same day.

“You just can’t believe everything that you see if it pops up on email, particularly if they’re asking for something that might seem a little unusual,” said Tim Maniscalo, who is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana.

Maniscalo said scammers are now turning to the internet to make their jobs easier.

“It’s so difficult to trace,” he said. “A lot of that comes from outside of the country so it’s a very convenient and cheap way for scammers to work.”Scammers did the same thing to Scotty’s Brewhouse affecting 4,000 employees.

Authorities are also investigating similar incidents at Patrick Industries in Elkhart, Indiana, and at Manatee County Schools in Manatee County, Florida. A payroll employee thought they were sending W-2 forms of nearly 8,000 teachers and staff to the superintendent.

“Just think about it, that’s the key to just about everything they’d want to know about you personally, about your financial situation,” said Mansicalo. “You know you can get a lot of information once you have a W-2 form.”

So how can you protect yourself moving forward from identity theft and fraud? Mansicalo said one option is to monitor your credit or freeze your credit.

“What that means is no one, a bank, a scammer, anybody can’t go in and look at your credit,” he said. “So they can’t open up a credit card, they can’t get a loan, they couldn’t get a mortgage anything like that.”

During the course of the investigation, the company also discovered a similar incident happened to them in April 2016.

Monarch Beverage offered current and former employees affected by the scam three years of free credit protection services.

The company declined an interview with 24-Hour News 8.

Click here to learn more on how you can freeze your credit with the Indiana Attorney General.

Monarch released a statement saying:

Monarch Beverage discovered on February 1, 2017, that it was the victim of a ruse to gain unauthorized access to the company’s employees’ W2-forms.  As soon as company officials discovered the loss of data, the company alerted law enforcement, including the FBI, local police, the IRS, the Indiana Attorney General and the Indiana Department of Revenue.  We deeply regret that this has occurred and we offer our sincerest apologies to everyone affected.   Any current or former employee who may be affected has been provided with three years of credit protection services through Experian’s ProtectMyID.

Suspect information has yet to be released.

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