TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The message on Ron Fernandez’s answer machine sounded ominous.
“Officially a final notice from the Internal Revenue Services. The reason for this call is to inform you that IRS is filing a lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file please call immediately on our department number 954 309-2616.”
People across the Bay area, Florida and the United States received calls from scammers impersonating the IRS. The thieves demand victims pay bogus tax bills. More than 5,200 did and have so far paid these crooks millions. According to the IRS, Floridians handed $1,583,698 to the scammers, fourth in the nation, behind victims in California, New York and Texas.
Ron called the phonies back from his Riverview home, and 8 On Your Side listened in.
“I got a voice mail and I’m returning the call,” he said. Someone on the other end of the line claimed he was federal agent Chris Stallings. He asked Ron for his name and date of birth.
“No I’m not giving you my date of birth,” Ron said.
The supposed agent then stated that two certified letters were sent to Ron’s house but they were bounced back to the IRS and that was the reason for the call.
“Could you tell me what address you sent the certified letters to?” Ron asked.
The scammer told Ron that was confidential information that he could not divulge without knowing Ron’s date of birth and the last four digits of his social security number.
“You could tell me you’re officer Obama, as far as I’m concerned, and I would not give you that information, sir,” asserted Ron.
“The IRS will never call you demanding an immediate payment for the taxes due,” said IRS Special Agent Kimberly Lappin.
She said these organized cells are operating from all around the world. In general, the calls are originating from outside the U.S. These crooks are becoming so brazen they make calls to police about phony incidents to summon law enforcement into neighborhoods.
“They’ll say look out your window, there’s a police officer ready to arrest you if you do not pay this tax bill,” she added.
No one is exempt from this phone scam.
“I got one as well,” agent Lappin added.
One way to fight back is to take down the telephone number that you’re getting calls from and any other information such as what type of payment the scammers asked for. Call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1 (800)366-4484 or go to the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” website and report it.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is taking the lead in tax impersonation schemes. On the phone, the phony IRS agent, who by this time had changed his name to federal agent Chris Fernandez, informed Ron that the IRS believed this was a willful act on Ron’s part and that he was trying to get away with tax evasion.
8 On Your Side hopped on the line, asking him who he was, what he wanted, and who he worked for.
“I just need to give you the information, that’s my job to give you information that is happening about your taxes which is unpaid or miscalculated,” the scammer stated in broken English.
The impersonator was not giving information, he was attempting to get personal information so he could line his pockets.
“He has no heart, he has no soul and he should burn in Hell,” Ron said.