- Days left

By Patrick Temple-West

WASHINGTON -- Thousands of Americans nationwide have been targeted since August by a phone scam in which fraudsters claim to be from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and demand money for unpaid taxes, the IRS' watchdog said Thursday.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said it has received more than 20,000 complaints from people, including recent immigrants, about the scam.

Thousands of victims have collectively paid more than $1 million to the scammers, the agency said.

"This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen," said J. Russell George, the head of TIGTA in a statement.

The fraudsters can manipulate victim's phone's caller ID so it displays the number of a local IRS office, TIGTA said.
In some cases, the fraudsters have also told victims parts of their Social Security numbers.

In cases where victims hung up, fraudsters have called back displaying a local police phone number on caller ID, TIGTA said.

Potential victims worried about their immigration status have been threatened with deportation, TIGTA said.

The scam has occurred in almost every state and the fraudsters have followed a uniform script, a senior TIGTA official said on a conference call with reporters.

The technology needed to manipulate caller ID displays is easily available to the public, the official said.

Major phone companies have been warned about the scam, as well as companies that provide voice-over-the-Internet call services, the official said.

Claudia Hill, a licensed tax preparer in Cupertino, Calif., said that in one week last month, four of her clients complained of such scam calls. Before this year, none of her clients had previously mentioned phone scams, said Hill, who said she prepares about 1,000 tax returns a year.

"The IRS is not proactive enough in getting out in front of any of this mess," she said.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Advice for Recent College Grads

Prepare yourself for the "real world".

View Course »

Intro to different retirement accounts

What does it mean to have a 401(k)? IRA?

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

What is IRS Form 8824: Like-Kind Exchange

Ordinarily, when you sell something for more than what you paid to get it, you have a capital gain; when you sell it for less than what you paid, you have a capital loss. Both can affect your taxes. But if you immediately buy a similar property to replace the one you sold, the tax code calls that a "like-kind exchange," and it lets you delay some or all of the tax effects. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses Form 8824 for like-kind exchanges.

What are ABLE Accounts? Tax Benefits Explained

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts allow the families of disabled young people to set aside money for their care in a way that earns special tax benefits. ABLE accounts work much like the so-called 529 accounts that families can use to save money for education; in fact, an ABLE account is really a special kind of 529.

What is IRS Form 8829: Expenses for Business Use of Your Home

One of the many benefits of working at home is that you can deduct legitimate expenses from your taxes. The downside is that since home office tax deductions are so easily abused, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tends to scrutinize them more closely than other parts of your tax return. However, if you are able to substantiate your home office deductions, you shouldn't be afraid to claim them. IRS Form 8829 helps you determine what you can and cannot claim.

What is IRS Form 8859: Carryforward of D.C. First-Time Homebuyer Credit

Form 8859 is a tax form that will never be used by the majority of taxpayers. However, if you live in the District of Columbia (D.C.), it could be the key to saving thousands of dollars on your taxes. While many first-time home purchasers in D.C. are entitled to a federal tax credit, Form 8859 calculates the amount of carry-forward credit you can use in future years, not the amount of your initial tax credit.

What is IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the power to seize income tax refunds when a taxpayer owes certain debts, such as unpaid taxes or overdue child support. Sometimes, a married couple's joint tax refund will be seized because of a debt for which only one spouse is responsible. When that happens, the other spouse is said to be "injured" and can file Form 8379 to get at least some of the refund.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Anyone else find it interesting that our "intelligence" community can read in real time our e mails and collect data on every phone call we make, but can't figure out how to locate and stop massive scams? Are Nigeria and other sites of scam origins so well protected that we can't crack them? This to me spells gross incompetence, especially when you see how poorly written these scam approaches are. Come on Americans, let's demand a little better performance out of our "intelligence" agencies. They take enough of our tax dollars to satisfy their bloated egos.

March 26 2014 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Donald Nisley

The government hates competition

March 24 2014 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One thing for sure, these folks aren't getting your personal information from NSA spying. Care to guess who?

March 22 2014 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you mean the IRS targeting political entity scandal?

March 22 2014 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Title is about the IRS scam...Darn, I thought it was going to be about the IRS stealing conservative people 1st Amendment rights.

March 22 2014 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hopefully, as the IRS intrudes with greater regularity and detriment through being the enforcement arm of ObamaCare, the American people will demand a much simplier, fairer, and sane tax system that will reduce the size and scope of the IRS. The more they do, the more bureaucratic incompetence they display. They remain the closest thing this country has to the Gestapo. Most are unaware of their real world power to destroy people just with their mistakes. Even totally innocent people find the remedies to IRS mistakes next to impossible to get corrected, and irrationally time consuming.

March 22 2014 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WTF...i was scammed in 2005...what are they doing about my issue....smh it takes over 20,000 people for you guys to listen and follow-up...i gave up until now!!!!!

March 22 2014 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yes the scam is called irs and needs to be shut down

March 22 2014 at 3:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Another IRS scandal by obrainless administration, wonder if holder knows anything on this one
Lunatics at work

March 22 2014 at 3:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

how do these people cash a check made out to the irs...... come on surley they cont make the check out to an individual, some thing is wrong with this story.. you mean to tell me the irs can not track a check back to who cashed it .. come on

March 22 2014 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bcrnbs2's comment

how do these people cash a check made out to the irs...... come on surley they cont make the check out to an individual, some thing is wrong with this story.. you mean to tell me the irs can not track a check back to who cashed it .. come on

ME: Your skepticism is valid..The irs themselves is doing this, who else has access to your ss#?????

March 22 2014 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Imam's comment

You'd be surprised. Some of these advanced background check entities have and will sell you out for a couple of bucks.

March 22 2014 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down