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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.

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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

I agree the only scam hear is irs itself. but that isnt news!!!!!!!!

March 22 2014 at 4:28 PM Report abuse +2 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