Beware Massive IRS Phone Scam

Fake agents demand immediate payment

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 21, 2014 2:53 AM CDT | Updated Mar 21, 2014 4:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – If an Internal Revenue Service agent calls you up threatening dire consequences if unpaid taxes aren't settled immediately, don't pay up—that's not an IRS agent on the other end. Tax officials say that in the "largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen," people have been bilked out of at least $1 million by the phony agents, reports CNN. The scammers order victims to pay up through a debit card or wire transfer, threatening them with arrest, deportation, or loss of a business or driver's license if they don't comply, says the IRS, which says its officials first reach out through the mail and don't demand immediate payment.

Halah Touryalai at Forbes was nearly taken in by the scam. She says a caller from the Washington, DC, area warned her that she had tried to "defraud the IRS, and that the government was now taking legal action against me including issuing a warrant for my arrest within the next hour." The fake agent, who became hostile when she asked how she could confirm his identity, told her that she had to pay $4,900 to cancel the warrant—and the payment had to be made by wire transfer because her bank accounts had already been frozen. Tourvalai says she was nearly scared enough to pay up, but she discovered it was a scam after reading a page on the IRS website.

The IRS says it tries to contact people by mail before calling.
The IRS says it tries to contact people by mail before calling.   (Shutterstock)
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