This is an important message to remember as Internal Revenue Service telephone impersonation scams continue and become more sophisticated. In a recent news conference, an official with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) estimated financial losses from such schemes had reached $20 million.
Last summer in an August 14 blog, we discussed some of the common tactics used by criminals including fake names and badge numbers. The scams have continued to target taxpayers across the county.
Victims have been threatened with jail time or deportation if they do not pay. The scammers often use follow up calls from apparent law enforcement agencies to legitimatize the initial calls. The impersonators often request payment in the form of pre-paid debit cards, because they are difficult to track.
Prosecutors are aggressively pursuing those involved
Also announced at the news conference was a prison sentence of 14 years for an individual who handled the U.S. side of a fraud ring that utilized call centers in India. The scheme netted more than a million dollars through fear and intimidation by impersonating law enforcement officials.
What to do if contacted?
A first communication from the IRS is always in writing through the mail. The agency never requests payment through pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers. Threats of jail or deportation should be other red flags.
Because typical losses reported have been between $5,000 and $7,000, question any caller who claims to be from the IRS. Never send money via pre-paid debit card. Report the call to the TIGTA.
If you have concerns about back taxes or a tax audit, contact a tax attorney who can review your situation and provide guidance.
Source: fbi.gov, “Ringleader of Extortion Ring Sentenced to More Than 14 Years in Manhattan Federal Prison for Massive “Call Center” Fraud Scheme,” July 8, 2015