Nationwide Scam Has Callers Posing As IRS, Making Threats - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

Nationwide Scam Has Callers Posing As IRS, Making Threats

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - It's some people's biggest fear: the IRS calling to collect money for late or unpaid taxes. But some of those calls could be a hoax. They're the basis of a nationwide scam that's already claimed 1,100 people as victims.

The Better Business Bureau has released a sample audio recording of the process. In it a man with an accent claims to be "Officer John Parker" and gives out his contact information before pushing the person on the other end to heed his warning to call back or else.

Regional Director with the BBB, Tyler Patton said they instruct them to pay immediately, either by wire transfer or pre-paid debit card. And then come the threats. Some with jail time or deportation, others with loss of business license or suspension of driver's license.

"Now if I don't return your call or if I don't hear from your attorney either, then the only thing I can do is wish you a very good luck as the legal situation badly unfolds on you," the man posing as Officer Parker said.

Those threats are clearly a red flag, but the reason so many have already fallen victim  is a because of something they call "spoofing." That's when software makes the caller ID appear like the number is actually coming from the IRS. 

"So in this case you can't trust what your caller ID says. "It's a very effective tool because psychologically it says, 'Okay if the number is coming from the IRS, if it's showing up on my caller ID, it must be legitimate,'" Patton explained.

The calls have been reported since April, but they've recently popped back up with the end of the another tax quarter. Officials said it's too early to know exactly where these calls are coming from since those responsible haven't been caught, but it's generally from people overseas. Five million dollars have already been reported lost.

"It's not one segment of people. They are casting a wide net, but they're definitely going towards people that tend to pay their taxes quarterly," he said.

If anything like this has happened to you, report it to the BBB or the treasury department.

Keep in mind that the IRS typically uses mail as a primary contact for collection and other notices, and would never threaten people nor refuse other payment options.

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