Five Arrested for IRS Phone Scam

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced the arrest of five individuals alleging that they were involved in schemes that impersonate IRS agents and used threat of arrest to obtain money from victims by representing that the victims owed back taxes. The arrests occurred in Miami, Florida on May 23, 2016 without incident. It is estimated that the suspects collected almost $2 million from approximately 1,500 victims. According to court documents, victims received telephone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, who told them the IRS would arrest them if they did not make payment immediately. The callers pressured their victims to wire money, utilizing MoneyGram and other wire services.

The IRS would never make their initial contact with a taxpayer by telephone for an IRS tax problem like owing the agency money. There is a procedure in place the IRS must follow when contacting a taxpayer for a balance due. Initially, the taxpayer would receive a notice and demand letter approximately 30-45 days after they filed their tax return that serves as an invoice. If the taxpayer does not pay, the IRS will follow up with 5 more letters 30 days apart. Therefore, there would be many contacts by mail before an IRS official would contact a taxpayer by telephone. See TIGTA Press Release

It appears that this was a copy cat crime that mirrored a massive IRS phone scam run through various call centers located in India. The FBI Press Release dated July 8, 2015 from the New York Field Office announced, ” Ringleader of Extortion Ring Sentenced to More than 14 Years in Manhattan Federal Prison for Massive Call Center Fraud Scheme”. Throughout the course of the fraud, telephone call centers located in India hired English-speaking employees to place telephone calls to individuals living in the United States. The ringleader provided the call centers with lists of potential victims. The India based call centers placed thousands of calls to individuals in the United States in the hopes of intimidating the potential victims into making a payment. It is estimated that approximately $1.2 million dollars was extorted from U.S. taxpayers.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think you owe any taxes and the caller is making threats, hang up on them and call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 or online by following the link