June 25, 2024

Phone ScamPhone Scam (File)

Maintain Your Guard Against Impostor Scams

TAMPA, Fla. – The IRS Criminal Investigation Tampa Field Office issued a caveat in April’s Financial Literacy Month, cautioning the public to stay vigilant against deceiving impostor scams, which topped the crime charts in 2023, as per the Federal Trade Commission.

“We wish to make it clear to taxpayers that scam artists don’t follow the same timelines as the IRS. Fraudsters often masquerade as IRS agents, ramping up their fraudulent phone calls to unsuspecting victims, claiming eligibility for tax forgiveness or intimidating them with due taxes and looming arrests,” cautioned Acting Special Agent in Charge, Lani Espinal, IRS:CI Tampa Field Office. “The IRS won’t ever call and threaten you with detention if immediate payment isn’t made. The IRS won’t demand payment in gift cards, cryptocurrency, or other hard-to-track payment streams.”

As per IRS CI source, Jignesh Purshottambhai Vekaria was penalized in Tampa in November 2023 with a federal prison sentence of four years and three months, for orchestrating a money laundering scheme utilising an Indian-based call center to extract money from victims.

Read: Elderly targeted in Florida ‘Lottery’ scam – Jamaican duo face charges

Scammers would pose as federal enforcement officers like Social Security Administration functionaries, FBI agents or IRS staff, intimidating victims with imminent arrest or other threats unless payments were made.

Apart from regular calls, scams impersonating the IRS routinely appear as e-mails, tweets, or other virtual messages relayed to taxpayers.

In February 2024, the FTC unveiled a report showcasing more than $10 billion losses reported by customers last year due to fraudulent activities. Imposter scam victims reported a massive loss of $2.7 billion, the FTC added.

Protective Measures Against Scammers

Taxpayers are encouraged to follow these preventive steps if contacted by potential fraudsters:

Phone Calls

  • Never divulge any information. Disconnect the call.
  • Make a report to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration concerning the IRS impersonation scam call.
  • Send the caller ID details and callback numbers to the IRS using phishing@irs.gov.
  • Include ‘IRS Phone Scam’ in the subject line.
  • Alert the Federal Trade Commission about the call.

Emails alleging affiliation with the IRS

  • Do not respond.
  • Do not download any attachments. They might carry malicious codes capable of compromising your computer or mobile device.
  • Do not click on any links. If you accidentally interact with suspicious links or websites and enter private information, visit the identity protection page.
  • Forward the email, with full headers to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Avoid sending screenshots or scanned images as they might eliminate crucial details.
  • Delete the original email.

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