Online hack exposes 1,100 employees' W2s at Alexander County company

ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. — A furniture company in Taylorsville was the victim of email scam that has exposed 1,100 of its employees’ W2 forms.

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sent out a release saying the online attack happened on Jan. 23. The company is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

The company notified the Internal Revenue Service on the same day the attack happened.

Deputies and employees told Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty that hackers have already started using the information to file tax returns.

"(I’m) very worried about it because our Social Security numbers are out there.  Everybody at the plant is concerned about it because this is years to come that this will affect us,” employee Paulette Jones said.

IRS agents are meeting with Alexander County deputies Tuesday.

Investigators are trying to determine how many returns have been filed with the stolen information, but whether the attack came from overseas.

"It's already out there now. It could even be overseas somewhere. Who knows?” employee Trish Brown said.

Company officials said they do not believe the person who obtained the employee information accessed its IT system.

The company has arranged for each employee to have identity theft protection services.

"It's something that could go on the rest of your life because your Social Security number follows you. It's disturbing that it's out there, but they are stepping up and trying to help," employee Linda Ramsey said.

The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office is working with the FBI on the investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Alexander County Sheriff's Office at 828-632-2911.

The IRS has been struggling to combat tax return fraud for years. Last year the agency identified more than 42,000 fraudulent returns were filed and $227 million was claimed.

But the IRS was able to prevent another $180 million from being issues on fake refunds.

In 2016, more than 20,000 potentially fraudulent tax returns were filed by prisoners.

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