Woman falls victim to IRS scam, loses $10K

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The ABC7 I-Team has a new warning from the IRS and talks to one Schaumburg woman who lost $10,000. (WLS)

ABC7 I-Team Investigation
The ABC7 I-Team has a new warning from the IRS and talks to one Schaumburg woman who lost $10,000. She is embarrassed but coming forward - saying she wants to share her story to help others.

She said that aggressive threats and a strange coincidence made her send $10,000 to fake IRS agents. Consumer watchdog groups say it's the No. 1 scam, and it's hitting harder than ever during tax season.

Pam doesn't want us to use her last name, but she gave the I-Team a play-by-play account of how threatening callers told her she owed back taxes.

A Schaumburg police report and money orders remind her of that dreadful day in December when she received a message similar to this: "Resulting in a lawsuit to be prosecuted against your name."

ABC7's Jason Knowles: "Why was this so believable to you?"
Pam: "It was a recording saying this case file you have to call, but it made me want to call because we already have something going on with the Illinois Department of Revenue so I thought it was related."

Pam says that coincidence got her to call the Washington, D.C. number back. But she says investigators later told her that call may have been coming from India and the scammers were using spoofing technology to change their number before demanding the money.

"And if we don't there's a warrant out for our arrest. And at this point its 10 after 8 in the morning. I'm trying to get my son ready for school, breakfast, freaking me out I'm going to be arrested," Pam said.

Eventually the con artists convinced Pam to wire several money orders to Seattle, totaling more than $10,000. She says they even demanded that she stay on the phone with her as she went from her bank to several different locations to wire the funds.

"It's incredible how I was stupid enough to stay on the phone for eight hours with these people thinking these are IRS people. IRS people aren't gonna stay on the phone for eight hours," she said.

"IRS will never ask a taxpayer to pay their tax liability over the phone by cash, by prepaid debit card, by wire transfer," said James Robnett, IRS Special Agent in Charge.

The IRS in Chicago said if you owed money, your first contact would come by mail on official letterhead.

Knowles: "Why is this scam still going so strong after two years?"

Robnett: "The scammers have seen success in the fact that people will turn over money if they are pressured and in fact, these scammers often target elderly and immigrants."

Since October 2013, the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General say 900,000 people have reported calls - 5,000 of them fell victim, paying $26.5 million.

Pam and the I-Team called that number in question again and gave them Pam's "case number."

Scammer: "Yes you can record whatever you want."
Knowles: "We are allowed to record this, OK? Thanks."
Scammer: "What you have to do now is go to your bank to make the statement of $7,000."
Woman: "Oh OK."
Jason: "My name is Jason Knowles from the ABC7 I-Team - you just tried to take more money from Pam - she already gave you $10,000."

The I-Team connected Pam with the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General. They will now investigate this case and will check to see if there is surveillance video showing the person picking up those money orders in Seattle.

But remember the calls appear to have come from overseas - so there may be little hope of recovering the money.

You too can report an IRS scam by calling 1-800-366-4484 or visiting https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/scammers-continuing-pose-irs-agents.
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