IRS Phone Scam Continues After Claiming Thousands of Victims

Posted on June 16, 2023

IRS Phone Scam Continues After Claiming Thousands of Victims

Tax scams have been around for long, but scammers continue to change their methods of deceit, as taxpayers become familiar with their methods of operating. In spite of the best efforts of the IRS and the law enforcement agencies, the threat of tax scams is real for taxpayers, not only during the tax season, but throughout the year. USA Today discusses how the IRS phone scam is being carried out and how many victims it has claimed.

“The crooks pretend to be an IRS agent or someone from the U.S. Treasury Department calling about a problem with your tax return.

“‘They say you didn’t pay enough or the money wasn’t received, and the only way to remedy this and make sure nothing bad happens to you is to get money to them immediately,’ explains Lois Greisman, associate director at the Federal Trade Commission. ‘Some of them can become very threatening and very abusive.’

“The scammers typically threaten potential victims with arrest or deportation. They may also claim that they can revoke a license or shut down a business if they don’t get the money right away.

“To make their pitch seem more legit, they will often spoof the caller ID to make it display the IRS toll free number (800-829-1040).

“If you hang up, another scammer may call, this time pretending to be with your local police department.

“Whatever the exact pitch, the goal is always the same: To get your hard-earned money.”

The IRS issued alerts after similar cases of tax fraud were reported from across the country. The use of sophisticated methods of scamming is making it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to catch the scammers. Additionally, the remoteness of the crime also adds to the problem of tracking the callers. USA Today shares the details:

“In mid-March, J. Russell George, the treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, issued a news release in which he called this ‘the largest scam of its kind we have ever seen.’ At that time, TIGTA said it had received reports of scam attempts from more than 20,000 people and knew of thousands of victims who had collectively paid more than $1 million.

“A spokesperson for the agency told CNBC the number of victims ‘has increased dramatically’ since then. No arrests have been made.

“Elaine Kuo talked to one of the scammers who identified himself as ‘Officer John Smith with the IRS.’ She was visiting her father-in-law in Maryland when the call came in. She describes the conversation as ‘very frightening and pretty threatening.’

“This ‘Officer Smith’ said there was a warrant issued for her father-in-law because of income tax errors. He said law enforcement would be arriving within a half hour to arrest him.

“When Kuo pressed for details about the problem, ‘Officer Smith’ turned the call over to a co-conspirator, who claimed to be ‘Officer Alex Marshall’.

“‘He said many many times that within the half hour law enforcement would be there and kept constantly asking, “Do you want to be taken away today?” ‘ Kuo recalled.

“Marshall told her the matter could be resolved right away over the phone. That’s when she hung up.

“Recent complaints indicate that some of the scammers are now using robocalls—automated telephone recordings—to hook their victims.”