IRS scammers caught in the act

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You may have gotten one: an, aggressive call from someone who says you owe income taxes. (WLS)

ABC7 I-Team Investigation
The numbers are skyrocketing - almost 50,000 complaints to one agency already this year.

The ABC7 I-Team got some IRS imposters on the phone and found out consumers might not want to call a local police department.

"I am getting these calls almost every day," Susan Herweck, of Chicago Heights, said.

Herweck said the calls from people pretending to be IRS agents won't stop.

"They told me if I didn't pay the amount of money, $2,986.98, right over the phone with them, that the sheriff's department would be out within a half hour to arrest me," Herweck said.

Federal authorities said an IRS agent will never call consumers; an alert on back taxes would come in the mail. So we had Herweck call back some of the numbers and tell people who answered that she was ready to pay. Then she handed the phone over to the ABC7 I-Team, "My name is Jason Knowles, from the ABC 7 I-Team. You are being recorded right now. Are you from the IRS?"

"Yes, how are you?" he said.

"We know you are not form the IRS," Knowles said.

"Sooo. You can't do anything, can you?" the man said.

"Can I do anything to you, no. But why are you calling this woman and asking her for money when you are not from the IRS?" Knowles said.

"I am not the one who is calling," the man said.

The I-Team also obtained an answering machine message from another resident, "Our attempts to notify you by mail have failed resulting into a lawsuit to be prosecuted in your name without a need a of trial."

The FTC said in 2014 it received 52,000 complaints, and in just the first six months of 2015, they've received 45,000 complaints already.

"They may have a badge number they may have the last four digits of your social security number," Todd Kossow, Federal Trade Commission, said.

While the first instinct may be to call police, the assistant director of the Midwest Region of the FTC said the best option is to save the numbers on your caller ID and file a report with the FTC, like Herweck did, or with the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration.

"I don't want to discourage people from calling local police. I think in most instances they are probably not going to help. Your best bet is to complain to us complain to the IRS," Kossow said.

The Chicago Police and Naperville Police departments said they do take deceptive practice reports whether a person has lost money or not, and that they pass the information to the IRS.

To make sure taxes are paid, call the IRS or an accountant.

"My accountant said that is the biggest bull he has ever heard," Herweck said.

Consumers who sent money to the scammers via Western Union or Money Gram can also report the situation directly to those businesses. If the thief hasn't picked up the money, consumers have a slim shot of getting it back.

The FTC admits it's incredibly hard to catch people, many of whom are overseas and using telephone spoofing technology. However, the FTC said consumers should file reports:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Ftc.gov/complaints
Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA): Tigta.gov/ 800-366-4484
IRS: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing (800) 829-1040


Related Topics:
businessproperty taxesfraudI-TeamscamNapervilleChicago
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