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TIGTA Warns US Taxpayers Of Continuing 'Tax Due' Scam

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

01 January 2018

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on December 28 issued a reminder to taxpayers to remain on high alert during the coming tax filing season to avoid being conned by criminals impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury employees.

Inspector General J Russell George noted significant progress in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of the scam, which has robbed US taxpayers of more than USD61m since it began in 2013.

In total, TIGTA investigations have resulted in federal charges being filed against over 90 individuals. In October 2016, 56 individuals (24 of whom were located in the United States) and five call centers located in India were named in a sweeping federal indictment for their roles in the IRS impersonation scam and other frauds. On November 13, 2017, the last of the 24 US-based defendants from the October 2016 indictment pleaded guilty.

"This is the largest, most comprehensive investigation that TIGTA has ever conducted, and I am extremely proud of our work," said Inspector General George, who added that collaboration between TIGTA and a broad cross-section of federal law enforcement partners, including the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, other offices of Inspectors General, and the US Department of Homeland Security, have strengthened US efforts to thwart these fraudulent schemes. "Thanks to both our law-enforcement and public awareness efforts, it has become much more difficult for these criminals to ensnare new victims," he said. "We continue to make great strides in our investigation of this scam, including the successful prosecution of over one dozen individuals associated with it over the past year," he said. "We continue to pursue these individuals aggressively, and late last month, we arrested four more people who were charged with participating in the scheme."

"Please remember to remain on guard against fraudulent calls. If you receive one, hang up, and report the call immediately to our website," he added.

TIGTA continues to receive reports of thousands of contacts every month in which individuals fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials make unsolicited calls and "robocalls" to taxpayers and demand that they make payment. Inspector General George noted that the scam has hit taxpayers in every state in the country. These scammers threaten unsuspecting taxpayers with arrest, imprisonment, deportation, grand jury indictment, loss of a business, or driver's license, or other punishments, if the taxpayers do not immediately pay them for taxes the taxpayers actually do not owe.

TIGTA started tracking the scam in October 2013. As of November 13, 2017, TIGTA had received contacts from over 2.1 million taxpayers who reported that they had received telephone contacts from scammers. "The good news is that while we receive thousands of reports of these calls every week, the scammers are only succeeding with a handful of victims," George said. "On average, between 30 and 40 new victims each week report that they paid the impersonators money. This is a vast improvement over the hundreds of new victims who were reporting last year that they paid the impersonators money. Still, even one victim is too many. All Americans must remain wary of these attempts to impersonate government officials."

TAGS: individuals | tax | business | India | law | employees | Internal Revenue Service (IRS) | enforcement | United States

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