‘IRS AGENTS’ INVOLVED IN MENACING BUT LUCRATIVE SCAM
Say police coming to your door if you don’t pay immediately
It may be an old scam, but apparently it’s still a very live and effective one, as at least three WND staff members have been targeted with it in recent weeks.
The potential victim receives a message from a computerized voice to call the IRS immediately about his “case file.”
The worried caller then is informed by an “agent” that a criminal case has been filed against him for defrauding the IRS, and if he doesn’t immediately make a payment, police will show up at his door.
The taxpayer then is instructed to go to the nearest drug store to purchase a pre-paid credit card through which a payment can be made to satisfy authorities.
The IRS is trying to warn Americans that its officers would never makes such a telephone call, but many terrified citizens are taking the bait.
It’s the largest such scam in agency history, with more than 1.2 million Americans having reported receiving such calls, the IRS said last month.
As estimated 6,400 citizens have reported being cheated out of $36.5 million.
Last month, the Treasury Department arrested five people in Miami accused of posing as IRS agents in a scheme that defrauded 1,500 people, netting the thieves an estimated $2 million.
But this month, the scam is still in full force, as evidenced anecdotally by WND staffers from the West Coast to the Mountain states to the East Coast.
The problem is that it is difficult to trace and inspires copycats who often operate from countries such as India and Mexico, using callback numbers in the U.S. obtained through pre-paid cellphones.
The impersonators who talked to WND staffers spoke with an Indian accent with the sounds of a vast call-in center in the background.
‘Aggressive and sophisticated’
On its website, the IRS warns an “aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country.”
“Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.”
The IRS says that, typically, if the victim refuses to cooperate, he is threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.
“In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.”
The IRS says it will never:
- call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill;
- demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe;
- require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card;
- ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone;
- threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Last year, CBS News reported North Carolina Pastor Al Cadenhead said he was so scared he couldn’t think straight after receiving a threatening call saying, “Don’t disregard this message … as delay in calling us back may end up in legal matter for you.”
When the pastor called back, a woman gave him her name and a badge number and said the IRS was informing him it had filed a warrant for his arrest for tax fraud.
Cadenhead believed he was innocent but thought the stakes too high, CBS News reported. So over the next seven hours he withdrew a total of $16,000 and sent it to the IRS impersonators through pre-paid debit cards.