Threatening Calls from Fake 'IRS Agents' Prompt FBI Warning
Taxpayers around the country are receiving calls from con artists pretending to be agents of the Internal Revenue Service, threatening victims with jail time and seizure of property in an attempt to defraud them, the FBI's online crime division warned on Friday.
It is the second time in two days the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued a warning about ongoing scams targeting U.S. consumers.
[Related article: FBI Issues Warning About Email Scam]
"The caller advises the recipient of the call that the IRS has charges against them and threatens legal action and arrest," the warning from the FBI said. "If the recipient questions the caller in any way, the caller becomes more aggressive."
The escalation may include threats to freeze bank accounts, take property, and have the victim arrested. Victims are told that they are facing charges including owing back taxes and defrauding the government.
Then the target is told that court costs and fees will be in the thousands of dollars, and is given a chance to try to avoid arrest -- if they can purchase Green Dot MoneyPak cards. Those are the new payment option of choice in scams because prepaid cards, like wiring money, are the same as delivering cash.
In some of the calls, the caller tells the victim where to buy the card and how much to put on it. In addition, the victim is told not tell anyone about the situation, and not to disconnect the call. If they do, they're told they risk arrest, the FBI said.
Many of the victims are immigrants, the FBI said. Some have reported that the callers speak in broken English or with Indian accents.
IC3 advises consumers who receive a call like this to do the following:
- Resist the pressure to act quickly
- Report the contact to TIGTA at www.treasury.gov/tigta by clicking on the red button, "IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting."
- Use caution when asked to use a specific payment method. The IRS would not require a specific payment method such as a MoneyPak card or wire transfer
- If you feel threatened, contact your local police department
- File a complaint at www.IC3.gov