A Johnston County woman has fallen victim to an IRS scam. The Internal Revenue Service says certain scams using their name has increased 400 percent this year. For a Cleveland area resident, the scam cost her $1,400.
The 56 year-old victim said she began receiving phone calls about 3 months ago from a man who identified himself as William Smith with the IRS. The calls, believed to have originated in New York, claimed the victim owned $4,965 in federal income tax. As the calls continued, they became more aggressive and the criminals impersonating IRS agents began applying more and more pressure. On several of the calls, Smith told the victim he was placing a senior IRS officer, who went by the name of Dexter Cruz, on the telephone who also demanded payment.
The victim said they had her social security number and home address. This week, the victim received another call, this time threatening to send a law enforcement officer to her home to arrest her if she did not start making payments.
Fearful of arrest, the victim sent $1,400 to the suspects through pre-paid cards.
The IRS said in April they had seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. “Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”
“There are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment,” Koskinen added. “Some schemes may say you’re entitled to a huge refund. These all add up to trouble. Some simple tips can help protect you.”
Since October 2013, nearly 900,000 reports have been received of these types of scams with over 5,000 victims paying over $26.5 million as a result.
Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact US Treasury Inspector General’s Hotline at 800-366-4484.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure.