Sneaky phishers

The deadline for manually filing our tax returns passed on 18 September this year, and the deadline for electronically filing (e-filing) is coming up fast on 20 November.

A day or two ago, I received the following email, ostensibly from the South African Revenue Services (at least, that’s what it said in the signature and in the email address –

“Tax Refund Notification”

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity, we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 2,482.50 ZAR. Please submit the tax refund request and allow 6-9 days in order to process it.

Click Here to submit you tax refund request

Note : A refund can be delayed a variety of reasons, for example submitting invalid records or applying after deadline.

Yours Sincerely

South African Revenue Service.


I was about to get all excited, when I realised:

  1. I hadn’t submitted my return yet, so – unless SARS officials were now working telepathically – it was highly unlikely that they’d already worked out I warranted a refund;
  2. SARS would never use a fancy phrase like “after the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity”;
  3. There was a grammatical error in “Click Here to submit you [instead of your] tax refund request”;
  4. There were two words missing in the Note, i.e. “A refund can be delayed [for] a variety of reasons” and “applying after [the] deadline”; and
  5. the email system had spam-filtered this tempting email.


Then, this morning on the news, someone from SARS warned that there were various emails of this format doing the rounds, but that these were all phishing attempts (see SARS warns of new ‘phishing’ scam).

They sure are clever blighters.

2 thoughts on “Sneaky phishers

  1. I wish our local taxing agency’s contact with me was a phishing scam. No one told us we lived in a dual taxing zone for local taxes and now I get to go back over several years of returns to figure how much we owe.

    I hope you get a massive refund.

    • A dual taxing zone for local taxes?! That sounds awfully complicated. And how come *you* have to go back over your old returns to do the calculations – surely the taxing agency should do that?

      The South African Revenue Services, thanks to the many years of leadership by Trevor Manuel as Minister of Finance, is pretty clued-up; their call centre operatives have always been impressively helpful and informative. The e-filing system is excellent – once you figure out what amounts to enter, which is fine and dandy if you’re a salaried employee who pays only one kind of tax but it gets rather more complicated if you earn the occasional amount from other sources too. And being allowed to file your returns electronically means that you don’t have to photocopy reams and reams of bank statements, invoices and receipts.

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