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Tax trickery: Woman says fake IRS call proved costly

A Carter County woman told police she was the victim of a scam claiming to be collecting money for the Internal Revenue Service.
According to the IRS, this type of scam is not uncommon.
According to police reports, a 60-year-old woman contacted the Carter County Sheriff’s Department on Saturday and reported she had been victimized after receiving a telephone call from a male posing as an IRS employee.
“She stated the subject advised her that she had pending debts in the amount of $3,147.92 that needed to be paid immediately,” CCSD Deputy Shane Watson said in his report on the incident. “She told them she only had approximately $2,000 she could pay at that time. The subject advised (the woman) to go to a store and purchase four Green Dot prepaid cards in the amount of $500 each, which she did. The subject then advised (the woman) to give them the numbers off of the cards.”
Watson said in his report that the victim became suspicious of the activity and called the IRS fraud division, which verified that it was in fact a scam operation. He also said the woman said she would file reports with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and with the IRS.
Scams targeting taxpayers are not an uncommon occurrence, according to the IRS. Last month, the IRS issued a warning to the public regarding what it described as “sophisticated and aggressive phone scams” that target taxpayers, and also warning that these type of scam operations do not end with the tax filing season.
“The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone,” said a press release issued by the IRS on this type of scam. “People have reported a particularly aggressive phone scam in the last several months. Immigrants are frequently targeted. Potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s license revoked. Callers are frequently insulting or hostile — apparently to scare their victims.
“Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.”
In addition to telephone scams, the IRS also warns against e-mails or text messages that claim to be from the IRS.
“The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail to request personal or financial information,” said the press release from the IRS. “This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.”
Those individuals who have been contacted by individuals claiming to be IRS employees can report the scam by contacting the IRS at 800-829-1040 or by the IRS website at www.irs.gov.