3OYS Update: $5 million lost in IRS phone scam

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- The Internal Revenue Service is fighting a major problem with scammers who are calling taxpayers and posing as IRS agents. Recordings of the fake agents are pretty convincing.The thought they could be arrested is very intimidating, and people are falling victim.

According to the IRS, more than 90,000 complaints have been filed this year alone regarding this scam and unfortunately $5 million has been forked over to the con men from victims. One of those victims, Ramona Bellah, lives here in the Valley, and was profiled in an earlier 3 On Your Side report.

When Ramona got the phone call, the fake agent threatened her with jail if she didn't pay up on taxes he claimed she owed. Frightened, Ramona drove to her nearest bank and was ordered to withdraw nearly $2,000. She was then told to put the money on two Reloadit cards, which the scammer had access to after Ramona told him the security digits on the back of the cards."$850 on one and $950 on the other," she says.

Once she gave up those numbers, her money was gone.

Earlier this year, 3 On Your Side spoke with Bill Brunson from the IRS office here in Phoenix about the scam.

“You want to protect your tax information," he told us. "If you receive that phone call and you're not sure, don't provide it. The Internal Revenue Service isn't going to ask you over the phone for personal financial information."

The IRS recently issued an updated advisory about the phone scam but despite that warning, and reports from 3 On Your Side, the scam continues to go strong with those threatening phone calls.
For more information about the scam visit:

www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Scam-Phone-Calls-Continue;-IRS-Identifies-Five-Easy-Ways-to-Spot-Suspicious-Calls

www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Repeats-Warning-about-Phone-Scams

www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/can-you-spot-government-imposter