Phony IRS Scam Targets Immigrants across the Nation

October 31, 2013

An Elk Grove woman dared to challenge scammers when she received a suspicious phone call earlier this month. She is the latest target in a nationwide scam aimed at immigrants where callers posed as IRS agents use threats of jail time to intimidate payments of up to $10,000 for false tax fees.

The Elk Grove resident, originally from Mexico, was contacted by phone multiple times from alleged IRS agents who stated she owed an unspecified amount for unpaid tax fees and if not paid immediately she faced jail time. “The calls scared me, and instantly I started thinking about my kids,” said the woman. “I didn't want to think of anything that would happen to them, especially with the threat of me going to jail.”

A former victim of fraud and familiar with tips provided by her BBB, she didn’t react to her fear of facing jail time but instead used her knowledge to keep the upper hand. She requested formal documents be mailed to her. The caller told her to look for documents in the next coming days before abruptly hanging up. The next day she was contacted with the same threats from two different numbers. “I already had my doubts. They switched their story constantly.” She contacted her BBB to investigate the legitimacy of the phone calls that confirmed her suspicions of a scam.

Similar phone calls that seem to target immigrants have occurred in New Jersey, Missouri and other parts of California. A St. Louis couple forfeited more than $10,000 on a prepaid debit card to an alleged IRS agent for back taxes. Both are U.S. citizens, but are originally from India.

“It's really heartbreaking and people have no heart to a family’s situation,” sympathized the Elk Grove woman, “I'm a little more knowledgeable with the BBB help and all their tips they offered me.”

Your BBB suggests the following tips to those receiving similar telephone calls:

  • The IRS will never ask for detailed personal and financial information, including PIN numbers, passwords or other bank account information. Releasing this kind of information can make you vulnerable to identity theft fraud.
  • Do not feel pressured to submit to the caller’s demands immediately. Request a call back number and employee badge number. You can verify information with the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

If you’ve fallen victim to a similar scam, please contact your BBB and the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

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