10 on your side: Tax fraud scam sounds so real, they say they’re IRS

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Last year more than 400,000 Americans fell victim to tax fraud and with this being tax season, that could concern you.

One Wabash Valley woman approached News 10 with her story, and she hopes to warn others. But, our story doesn’t stop there.

“He started to say I committed fraud by hiding money, that I’m in the process of getting audited, and if I don’t respond to this phone call within 24 hours I would have a warrant out for my arrest,” she explained.

Ellen took that scary phone call earlier this week. She wanted to share her story, because she said the person who tried to scam her sounded like a pro.

“It was from a guy stating he was Jonathan Knight.”

Ellen gave us his phone number. A Google search turns up that this Jonathan Knight has tried this scam on numerous people. His story sounds convincing, even giving an IRS badge number.

Right now, you may be thinking ‘we’ve heard this story before.’

Tax scams, after all, are the number one growing scam in the United States. Which may prompt this question: ‘What is the IRS or the state doing about this growing problem? What can I do if I’ve been victimized?’

So, News 10 went to a professional tax preparer to find out.

Andy Stadler has been in the tax preparation business for 30 years. He’s also president of the Indiana Association of Enrolled Agents.

“When the IRS comes and says you owe us money, that tends to grabs people’s attention,” Stadler stated.

Because the IRS has such an intimidating effect on people, that’s what scammers use to steal your money. Another way they’re convincing is they tend to find people who already owe the IRS money.

How do they found out? Stadler stated that information is publicly available on the internet. Who’s job is it to go after these scam artists? Stadler said the IRS has a criminal investigation and what’s called an RPO division who investigate tax fraud cases.

“Unfortunately, both of these divisions doesn’t have much in the way of personnel assigned to them, so unless the fraudster is collecting millions of dollars, the IRS just doesn’t have the resources to go after them.”

So your best line of defense is yourself.

If you get a call from someone who says they’re from the IRS, simply hang up then find out for yourself by calling the IRS to see if you truly are in debt.

Stadler also explained the IRS always sends letters first before resorting to phone calls.

If you’ve been contacted by a scammer, Stadler says contact your local police, your state’s Attorney General’s Office and the IRS.

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