February 2 2016

Middlesex Sheriff Warns of IRS/Tax Frauds as Tax Day Approaches

By: Rich Hosford

Tax-related scams have been a big issue the past few years and as we approach April 15 once again, Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian is warning residents to be on guard.


“While we have not seen a noticeable uptick in calls reported to us in recent weeks, we want residents to be on guard against attempts by scammers to separate them from their hard-earned money,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “As tax season swings into high gear, it is likely the number of calls being received by local residents from individuals posing as IRS agents – or law enforcement officials collecting on behalf of the IRS – will increase.”


Koutoujian said that from 2014 to 2015 the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reported approximately 4,550 victims nationwide lost more than $23 million in these IRS scams.


According to a release, in the most common form of the scam, perpetrators will identify themselves as either IRS agents or members of law enforcement.  They will inform the person receiving the call that they have overdue taxes and will demand the bill be paid immediately either though a wire transfer or via a pre-paid debit card. If the intended victim refuses, the caller will often threaten arrest. 


In some instances, the caller will spoof the telephone numbers of IRS offices or law enforcement agencies, making it appear as if the calls are coming from those entities. 


“At no time will a real IRS agent or law enforcement official demand immediate payment or threaten arrest over the phone,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “These are telltale signs of a scam.”


In an effort to add further legitimacy, the caller may touch upon information they have been able to glean from public sources including social media.  This could include facts about employment or family, for instance.


Residents who receive scam calls may report them to the Federal Trade Commission or to TIGTA through its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page.  


Losses should also be immediately reported to your local police department.

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