Scam calls and Emails from the IRS

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

Five Individuals Arrested for Fraud in IRS Phone Scams

WASHINGTON — J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), announced the arrests of five individuals based upon criminal complaints alleging that they were involved in schemes to impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents and use the threat of arrest to obtain money from victims by falsely representing that the victims owed back taxes or other fees.

TIGTA agents arrested the five suspects in Miami, FL, without incident on May 23, 2016, for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to the court documents, the suspects are responsible for almost $2 million in schemes that defrauded more than 1,500 victims.

"These arrests indicate that TIGTA is making significant progress in our investigation of the IRS impersonation scam that continues to sweep the country, resulting in reported taxpayer losses of more than $36 million, averaging more than $5,700 in losses per taxpayer," the Inspector General said. "The scammers are relentless and so are we," he added. "Our investigators will not rest until we have brought each individual involved to justice."

The five individuals are: Jennifer Valerino Nunez, Dennis Delgado Caballero, Arnoldo Perez Mirabal, Yaritza Espinosa Diaz, and Roberto Fontanella Caballero. The criminal complaints were filed with the following courts: the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on May 18, 2016 (Yaritza Diaz and Roberto Caballero); the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on May 16, 2016 (Arnoldo Mirabal); and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on May 10, 2016 (Jennifer Nunez and Dennis Caballero).

According to the court documents, the suspects knowingly conspired with others to commit wire fraud by falsely impersonating IRS agents and demanding money under such false pretenses. Victims received telephone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, who told them the IRS would arrest them if they did not make payment immediately. The callers made these threats and used other methods of intimidation to

persuade the victims to wire money, utilizing MoneyGram, Walmart--2--Walmart, and other wire services.

"No legitimate United States Treasury or IRS official will demand that anyone make payments via MoneyGram, Western Union, Walmart--2--Walmart, or any other money wiring method, for any debt to the IRS or the Department of the Treasury," George said.

"Nor will the Department of the Treasury demand that anyone pay a debt or secure one by using iTunes cards or other prepaid debit cards," he said, adding, "Hang up on these fraudulent callers and go to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) scam reporting page to report the call," he added.

Investigators verified the identity of the suspects and their activities through a variety of investigative procedures. TIGTA Special Agents conducted the investigations that led to the arrests of the suspects. TIGTA received assistance in one of the investigations from the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General.

The suspects have been referred to the appropriate Office of the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, for prosecution and additional legal action.

Stay Vigilant Against Bogus IRS Phone Calls and Emails

Tax scams take many different forms. Recently, the most common scams are phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. They use the IRS name, logo or a fake website to try to steal your money. They may try to steal your identity too. Here are several tips from the IRS to help you avoid being a victim of these tax scams:

The real IRS will not:

  • Initiate contact with you by phone, email, text or social media to ask for your personal or financial information.
  • Call you and demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, telling you to pay with a prepaid debit card.

Be wary if you get a phone call from someone who claims to be from the IRS and demands that you pay immediately. Here are some steps you can take to avoid and stop these scams.

If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
  • You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your report.

If you think you may owe taxes:

  • Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you.

In most cases, an IRS phishing scam is an unsolicited, bogus email that claims to come from the IRS. They often use fake refunds, phony tax bills, or threats of an audit. Some emails link to sham websites that look real.  The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If they get what they’re after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and their identity.

If you get a ‘phishing’ email, the IRS offers this advice:

  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.

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