Scam Artists Make Threats

The Better Business Bureau is warning area residents to be wary of scammers posing as IRS officials. A local consumer recently lost $500 in an IRS MoneyPack scam.

Tax season may be over but that has not stopped scammers from continuing to pose as IRS officials and making calls threatening jail time and loss of property. Thousands of calls have been made to individuals nationally with total losses around one million dollars.

Better Business Bureaus (BBB) report that consumers have received calls and voicemail messages stating they need to contact the IRS immediately or they would face legal consequences. Other calls threatened arrest by U.S. Marshals for failure to pay the correct amount of taxes.

BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa has been notified by a consumer in Hickman Nebraska that she received a message on her answering machine from the IRS on July 15th. The consumer returned the call at 8:15 am on July 16th.

The “IRS official” who answered the phone told her that she was delinquent in paying some of her taxes in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and she owed the IRS $2,704.42. She was also notified that this information had been sent to a “high court” in Washington DC, that this was a time-sensitive issue and that she would need to pay a portion of the amount owed immediately or she would be arrested that day.

The caller stayed on the phone with the consumer while she went to her bank, withdrew $500, then drove to the nearest CVS Pharmacy and had the money transferred to a Green Dot MoneyPak as instructed. As soon as she returned to her vehicle, the caller asked her for the numbers on the back of the card. After giving him this information, she told him that she would have to get the rest of the money from her husband. The “IRS official” gave her another phone number to use to let him know when she had the additional funds. The consumer stated, “So I called my husband and then he called BBB, and all things came to a stop.” The man continues trying to contact her on her cell phone, but she does not answer.

BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty stated, “The IRS never contacts taxpayers by phone requesting money. They also never contact taxpayers by email. If there is an issue with the IRS that requires your response, the contact would be made by U.S. mail.”

BBB recommends the following tips if you receive one of these scam phone calls:
• Hang Up - Don’t provide any information over the phone. Call the IRS directly using the phone number found on their legitimate website.

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