People pretending to be IRS agents are calling and demanding money, police have warned, and it seems many people are falling for the scam.
Police have counseled people to be vigilant to phone calls requesting credit card or bank account numbers from callers pretending to be representing the Internal Revenue Service. They usually suggest that the person has overdue or unpaid taxes outstanding and demanding money.
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The call can often have a sinister tone, with threats of legal proceedings or even incarceration if the monies are not forthcoming. The scammers usually have obtained some personal information, such as a social security number, in attempts to make the call sound more genuine.
Recipients of the call are always told to stay on the line while they transfer money, presumably so that there is no opportunity for a friend or relative to talk them out of making the payment.
Often they ask for the money to be transferred to MoneyGram or other locations rather than official avenues. It has even been reported that they have been asking for iTunes card numbers or other weird and wonderful payment methods. Again, this should be a big red flag, but unfortunately if they make enough calls, they will eventually find a vulnerable or scared victim who will be compliant.
Not content with taxes, the scammers are also targeting students demanding payment for the ‘federal student tax’, which doesn’t even exist.
The police have stated that the IRS will never call to demand payment without have first sent a demand in the mail.
IRS fighting back
This warning comes on the heels of five arrests last week fin Miami for fraudulently obtaining just shy of $2 million from over 1,500 victims.
The perpetrators were said to have traveled state to state under false names. The inspector general has identified the suspects as Jennifer Valerino Nunez, Dennis Delgado Caballero, Arnoldo Perez Mirabal, Yaritza Espinosa Diaz and Roberto Fontanella Caballero.
As you can see, it may be a man, it may be a woman calling, sometimes the calls are live, sometimes the calls start with robots. The scammers would also invent fake badge numbers, and imaginary case numbers, all in efforts to sound more official.
Last year a man from Tatamy, PA. was arrested and sentenced to 14 years for being a ‘ringleader’ in a similar scam.
It appears that the message is gradually getting through, even though there are still too many victims. It seems that the success rates are of these tricksters is declining. When the scam first appeared court records suggest that it would take 40-50 calls before catching a victim, but it is now more like 300 to 400 calls before finding a pliable target, the inspector general stated.
The IRS has promised to be relentless in pursuit of these rogue callers. Any numbers thought to be associated with the scam are being tracked.
In the digital age people need to be more vigilant, and not give out personal information and certainly never hand over money. If you receive a genuine call they will always be happy for you to call back (not the number they give you!) and confirm all the details. Being asked to stay on the phone and not investigate further should immediately raise your suspicions. Forewarned is forearmed.
If you do receive a suspicious call, police ask you contact them immediately, or alternatively contact the treasury inspector general on 800-366-4484.