Earlier this month, hundreds of workers in Mumbai were investigated and dozens arrested for one of India’s largest scams. Targeting thousands of US citizens, the call center workers posed as IRS officials “in order to steal tens of millions of dollars, Indian police have said.” With a trained American accent, employees would trick American citizens into thinking they had defaulted on taxes and “were facing prosecution by the IRS.”
The IRS impersonation scam is a relentless operation, which has resulted in a more than $36 million taxpayer loss, “averaging more than $5,700 in losses per taxpayer.”
In an unrelated incident in May, five individuals were arrested in Miami, Florida “for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.” They’re responsible for taking $2 million from more than 1,500 victims.
Battle Won, War Continues
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration believes these arrests have made “significant progress” against tax scammers, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Far from it.
For years, scammers have been stealing millions of dollars from taxpayer’s wallets, using frightening tactics such as “threatening jail or deportation for those who failed to comply” or “told that their homes would be raided by police within 30 minutes if they hung up.”
It’s a sad fact, but phone scams remain successful. Operations consisting of hundreds of employees are able to target unsuspecting taxpayers in all parts of the country. It’s a topic we’ve covered on BeenVerified numerous times. The importance of understanding how these scammers operate and how you can avoid them cannot be stressed enough.
IRS commissioner, John Koskinen has stated: “We [the IRS] have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”
Know The Signs
As we’ve noted many times before, remember that the IRS will never threaten to arrest you over the phone for not paying. They’ll also never demand immediate payment over the phone, without mailing you a bill first. They’ll never require a specific payment method or ask for credit or debit card information over the phone. And they’ll never demand payment without giving you the ability to question or appeal the amount owed.
There are too many occurrences of scammers taking advantage of gullible taxpayers. Help your friends, family members and neighbors avoid this all-too-common scam by spreading the awareness of what to look – or rather, hear – out for.