An old IRS scam resurfaces with a new twist - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

An old IRS scam resurfaces with a new twist

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The con started appropriately enough on April Fool’s Day. With a message on Erica's E'town answering machine.

The message in a computerized voice said in part, "Ignoring this will be an intentional second attempt to avoid the initial appearance before a magistrate judge and a grand jury for a federal criminal offense."

People posing as IRS workers told Erica she had to pay thousands of dollars in overdue taxes and fines or face criminal charges. Erica followed their directions. Driving all over town buying up handfuls of iTunes gift cards.

Transferring the value of each one, usually $500 a pop, into a bank account. They also convinced Erica she had to make two bigger money transfers. In all, she sent them around $50,000 over a 12-day period and she is not alone.

By some estimates, seniors were scammed out of $3 billion dollars last year nationwide. When Erica pressed for more information about what was going on the scammers told her they couldn't discuss it over the phone.

Claiming it would violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which is really a federal wiretapping law. Instead, they told Erica a field agent would come to her house and explain everything in person. He never showed. 

"Ok, all the signals, I've been scammed really good. and I was like ok, now I need to face this," said E'town. But where to turn? Erica ended up in the office of her Attorney General.

And found out she had the key to cracking her own case. Detailed notes she kept about every phone call, every money transfer, every bank account number.

The information she handed over to the AG's office of senior protection that allowed them to follow the money, the right to a bank account of a travel agency in Georgia.

Investigators believe scammers in India were funneling money through that travel agency's account without the owner's knowledge.

The Attorney General's Office was able to freeze the account and get Erica's money back.

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 know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
  • Remember, too, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box.

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