Federal officials have been warning about the IRS scam for over a year. It involves someone impersonating an IRS agent making calls to unsuspecting citizens claiming that the person who answers the phone owes back taxes.
Federal officials believe that this is the largest IRS phone scam in history. In testimony to the Senate Finance Committee, Timothy Camus, a Treasury deputy inspector general for tax administration, reported that more than 3,000 people have fallen victim to the scheme since 2013. And, the scam has targeted 366,000 taxpayers and collected around $15.5 million. In one case a man lost $500,000.
Federal investigators believe that several groups may be conducting the scam. Two people have been arrested in Florida for being part of the scam that involved call centers in India.
In early February, the Edmonds Police Department issued an alert about the IRS scam. Safeway store employees at 23632 Highway 99 called police when a Mountlake Terrace woman came into the store to purchase $2,400 in prepaid credit cards. When employees talked to her, she said that she needed the cards to pay an IRS debt. Police and employees were able to cancel $3,000 worth of cards that she had purchased at another Safeway store.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has also issued warnings about this scam. It recommends that if you receive a call from an IRS scammer, hang up. That is your best protection.
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