Hang up.  These calls are part of a scheme which has been described by the IRS as the largest phone scam the agency has ever seen.  Criminals will call taxpayers and threaten arrest, deportation or the closure of their business if the taxpayer does not agree to pay thousands of dollars via prepaid debit card or wire transfer.  Oftentimes, taxpayers will receive follow up calls from individuals claiming to be law enforcement officers en route to arrest them.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) estimates that more than 366,000 people in nearly every state have been targeted by these criminals, and investigators believe there is more than one gang of perpetrators.  Targets include taxpayers of various backgrounds, including an IRS Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent, a United States Senator and my mother.  TIGTA’s investigators believe that the scam has netted roughly $15.5mm from terrified, credulous taxpayers.

Taxpayers should be on alert for this fraud, which tops the IRS “Dirty Dozen” tax scams this year.  The IRS does not make initial contact through cold calls and does not request payments using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.  If you receive such a call, you can report the incident to TIGTA at (800) 366-4484 or file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/).  There is a direct link on the front page for taxpayers “to report someone falsely claiming to be from the government, a business, or a family member.”

If you have any questions regarding this scam, please contact a Rosenberg Martin Greenberg attorney at 410.727.6600.