A tipster sent us a frantic suggestion that the AICPA member list may have been "hacked" but after about 3 minutes of digging (let no one say we're lazy journalists), we easily debunked the emails in question as general spam and nothing for AICPA members to be worried about. If a biologist is getting the emails, chances are it's some bored Nigerian in an Internet cafe and not an Anonymous plan to dismantle the public accounting industry from the inside.
That said, just in case any AICPA members receive the suspicious email and actually feel their good standing in the profession is at risk, be on the lookout for this:
We have received a complaint about your alleged involvement in tax return fraudulent activity for one of your employees. According to AICPA Bylaw Subsection 730 your Certified Public Accountant license can be cancelled in case of the occurrence of presenting of a false or fraudulent income tax return on the member's or a client's behalf. Please be notified below and provide your feedback to it within 14 days. The failure to respond within this term will result in withdrawal of your Accountant status.
Now, the first tip off here (besides the slightly awkward use of English and random capitalization of the word "Accountant") is the fact that it threatens revocation of a CPA's license based on allegations of tax fraud. As everyone knows, the rule (as far as I understand it) in this country remains innocent until proven guilty. So while allegations of tax fraud may put you on some AICPA watch list, it's pretty safe to assume your license is not in jeopardy simply because the IRS has begun fraud proceedings against you. Note for the remedial crowd: that doesn't mean it's ever OK to lie on your or anyone else's taxes, but allegations take awhile to turn into charges.
The funny part about this confusing, virus-laden piece of spam is that it cites the correct AICPA bylaw, which states that membership in the Institute shall be suspended or terminated without a hearing for disciplinary purposes, or a member may be subjected to other disciplinary actions, as provided in sections 7.3.1 and 7.3.2, under such conditions and by such procedure as shall be prescribed by the Council. Sections 7.3.1 and 7.3.2 basically state that if an AICPA member commits a crime subject to imprisonment for more than one year, he or she can pretty much assume they will not be an AICPA member any longer, and that willful failure to file a tax return or filing a fraudulent tax return is also going to get a person's AICPA membership revoked, but again, that would require an investigation by the IRS before it comes to that. Filing false tax returns for clients will also receive the same treatment.
SO, the moral of the story here is that if you get this email, don't trip, you're still an outstanding representative of the profession, your activity on this site notwithstanding.