When Benjamin Sowers lost his job in the service industry last year due to the pandemic, he and his fiancée, Keely Reed, brainstormed a new career: starting a food truck serving charcuterie and sandwiches, to be stationed outside Reed’s family’s vineyard in Hood River, Ore. As the opening date in April sped ever closer, the truck, called Wheels, needed a bank account. To open one, the couple needed an employer ID number. To get it, Reed did what just about anybody would do.
She googled it.
“The first thing that popped up said something .gov, -gov,” she told The Markup by phone. “I thought, ‘Great, this is it.’ “
She clicked it and filled out her information and paid the $250 fee the site requested. She had fallen into a trap, one set by the owner of ein-gov.tax-filing-forms.com
, which paid Google to show its ad in the results for her search for “online employer identification number”—and place it above the website of the IRS, the agency that distributes EINs online for free….