WASHINGTON D.C. – October 17, 2015 (Gephardt Daily) – Almost five thousand Americans have paid out more than $23 million since 2013 to scammers they thought were representatives of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
It is the “largest of its kind” scam according to Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George and although progress has been made in the investigation, consumers are urged to remain on “high alert.”
The scam works like this: a consumer gets a call from a person who claims to be with the IRS and tells the victim they have unpaid taxes. Then the victim is threatened with a criminal violation, immediate arrest, deportation or eventual loss of a business or driver’s license unless the fees are settled immediately using a debit card or wire transfer.
So, how do so many people get scammed? The Inspector General’s office says it is because the scammers feign legitimacy using a robocall machine, knowing the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number, or sending out fake IRS e-mails.
The best advice is to hang up immediately if you receive a call from somebody claiming to be with the IRS and demanding immediate payment. Since October of 2013, more than three quarters of a million Americans have reported receiving the calls.
One of the leaders of the extortion scam was arrested and sentenced this summer to 14 years in federal prison. Sahil Patel helped to organize the U.S. side of the fraud that is allegedly run through call centers in India.