The scam targeting innocent people around the nation, posing as IRS agents, calling victims saying they owe money to the IRS, continues. At least 20,000 people had been victimized by the scam, reported J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, in May 2014, noting that victims had paid out over $1 million.
According to police reports, the “agent” then demands the money be paid promptly by a pre-paid debit card. If the victim refuses, the “agent” threatens to call the police to have the victim arrested. The scammers use sophisticated software to create the appearance of a call being generated from an official IRS number, according to the police.
The Fremont, Calif., Police Department has issued a bulletin saying it has received an unusually high number of calls from residents reporting calls from fake Internal Revenue Service agents. According to Fremont Police, In May 2014, the Federal Trade Commission reported the largest IRS phone scam ever, and noted that Indian Americans and other South Asian Americans were predominantly being targeted by the scammers, who themselves appeared to be South Asians. Many of the “agents” can speak Hindi and Urdu, reported the FTC.
Geneva Bosques, a spokeswoman for the Fremont Police Department, said, “Most people knew it was a scam,” said Bosques, adding – unlike last year – patterns of ethnic groups being targeted did not show up with the calls. “They were across the board,” she said. The IRS will never call you, stated Bosques, noting that the agency does all its work by U.S. mail. She suggested simply hanging up when a suspicious call comes through.
The Fremont Police Department does not take reports on such cases, unless a victim is involved. The department is not investigating the fraud, as federal investigators are looking into the matter. In the past, scammers have identified themselves as Fremont Police Department detectives, said Bosques.
The Fremont Police Department offered the following suggestions to avoid being victimized: if you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you.