Eight people were arrested this week for perpetrating a familiar scam. They are accused of impersonating IRS personnel in phone calls to victims in which they threatened the victims with being arrested if they did not immediately make payments. The method of payments requested by the alleged scammers were MoneyGram, Walmart2Walmart Money Transfer and iTunes cards. According to the IRS the alleged scammers stole more than 8.8 million dollars from more than 7,000 victims.
Arrested were Yosvany Padilla, Elio Carballo Cruz, Esequiel Bravo Diaz, Ricardo Fontanella Caballero, Alejandro Valdes, Angel Chapotin Carrillo, Alfredo Echevarria Rios and Joel Leon Pando.
This scam is easy to avoid. Don’t trust your Caller ID because by using a technique called spoofing, a scammer can make his or her call appear to be from the IRS on your Caller ID. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. The easiest way to recognize if a call from the IRS demanding money is a scam is to be aware of the fact that the IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer to collect overdue taxes by a phone call, email or text message. Any such communication is from a scammer so you should just ignore it. Additionally, unlike the IRS, the scammers often demand that payments be made immediately by prepaid debit cards, wired funds or even iTunes gift cards, which is something that the IRS will never do.
If you do become a victim of this scam, you should report it to the IRS at this website address: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml
Complicating the situation, however, Congress, in its infinite wisdom, is now authorizing designated private collection companies to collect overdue taxes and contact people by phone in order to do so. The National Taxpayer Advocate office, which is an office within the IRS estimates about 380,000 taxpayers’ accounts will be turned over to these collection agencies.
Having private collection companies attempt to collect overdue taxes on behalf of the IRS was done in past years, but was not cost effective.
If your account has been transferred to a private collection agency by the IRS, you will be notified by regular mail before you receive any phone call. So if you receive a call attempting to collect money from you for overdue taxes before receiving such a notice, you can be sure that the call is a scam. However, even if you account has been turned over to a collection agency by the IRS, you can never be sure when you are called on the phone, that the person calling you is really from one of the IRS authorized collection agencies so the best course of action is to tell them politely that you cannot be sure that they are who they say they are and contact the IRS directly to straighten the matter out.