US TreasuryA message is left on your  home phone from Dennis Gray, Steve Martin, Gil Martin or some other innocuous sound person who claims to be from the U.S. Treasury.   It says that you are  being prosecuted for tax evasion, I needed to call some phone number , as a warrant had been issued for my arrest.   You called back and are handed over to the “Supervisor”, and you are told if you hung up the phone that the warrant for my arrest would be immediately issued and within 45 minutes the Sheriff would come to my house to arrest me. The supervisor references several citation numbers and laws stating you would be going to jail for tax evasion if you hung up the phone, and you would be put in jail for a minimum of 1 year.  He asks you to go you your bank, take out the amount of money he said you owed in cash, then go to either a local store and purchase “tax Vouchers”, and then mail those vouchers to the U.S. Treasury.

You’ve been subjected to a scam.   Hopefully, because you are reading this, you didn’t fall for it.   But for the last two years, seniors and other vulnerable communities have been subjected to this pernicious scam.    The federal gov’t has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards.If you get such a call, here are some things to remember:

  • Potential victims are told that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS or they are told they are entitled to big refunds.
  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from IRS or U.S. Treasury,  and if you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call IRS at 800.829.1040. IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.  Or, better yet,  fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form on the IRS website,  or call it at 800-366-4484.  You can also file an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.