FORT MYERS, Fla.- Criminals posing as the IRS are duping taxpayers by the day. So far, they've bilked more than $1 Million from thousands of people. As the nation draws closer to the April 15th tax deadline, crooks are calling victims threatening their life savings and even their freedom in an effort to get them to pay up.
The crooks have been calling people for weeks. In many cases, they want you to send a wire transer or use a prepaid debit card to send money for taxes you supposedly owe.
"They're very threatening phone calls. That's what's so different about these where we haven't seen before," IRS spokesman Michael Dobzinski said.
Dobzinski says victims in Florida reported the scam in Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, and the Miami area.
In some cases the scammers threaten to deport you or threaten to claim your benefit money. Immigrants and senior citizens are particularly at risk.
"Oftentimes after they'll call you as an IRS person they'll then call back and make believe they're from the police department and say I understand you got a call. If you don't pay your taxes, we're going to come and arrest you," Dobzinski said.
The thieves often have your personal information including your social security number. In some instances, they even make it look like it's the IRS calling.
"Oftentimes the caller ID number is the IRS toll free number," Dobzinski said.
The calls reported have several things in common:
The caller: sounds automated
has a foreign voice
and uses bad grammar.
IRS officials say real agents don't demand payment by debit cards or wire transfers, and they would first notify you by mail if you owed money.
"You would get a series of 3-4 notices over a several week period of time, so if you owe taxes you probably know about it."
If you get one of these calls, a good rule of thumb is to ask for everything in writing, then report it to the IRS, the Treasury Inspector General, or the Federal Trade Commission.
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