3OYS: IRS phone scam nets more victims

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The IRS has confirmed that at least 3,000 people have already been scammed out of $14 million, and it all starts with a phone call.

"In the beginning I thought it was very legit. I was scared. I mean, I started to tear up. I even was shaking a little bit," said Chandler resident Edward Antolik.

The phone call that shook him up came from someone claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service. Antolik didn't have a chance to record the call but other people have.

It went something like this: "One of the sheriff county officers will arrest you. At the time, you can verify that what the mistake done by you."

Phone calls from people claiming to be with the IRS are saturating not only Valley residents but people all around the nation.

Here's one example of the scam call: "But before IRS takes any legal action against your name and your Social Security number, call us back as soon as possible."

“They really put on a great show," Antolik said. "They'll have you convinced."

The convincing and intimidating calls claim that people like Antolik owe back taxes. As for Antolik, they told him he owed $1,800. And if he didn't pay up, there would be trouble.

Antolik remembers the threat well: "You either pay the fine or the police are going to come and pick you up. As a matter of fact, they're on their way right now."

The "IRS phone scam," as it's called, has been exposed by 3 On Your Side numerous times. But so many people are being suckered into the scam and sending money they don't really owe, that the IRS just issued another alert.

"The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months, as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things," the alert said.

“I teared up because the last thing I wanted was to go to jail, because I’m going to lose my job if I go to jail," Antolik said.

He was so scared and convinced by the caller that he considered paying the $1,800. After all, he didn't want to be arrested and who wants a problem with the IRS?

But then the caller claiming to be with the IRS made a weird request, according to Antolik.

"Whatever you do, don't hang up the phone, and tell me everything you're doing," Antolik recalled.

It sounds crazy. But few months ago, a Valley woman told 3 On Your Side how a similar caller actually stayed on the phone with her as she drove to the bank, withdrew nearly $2,000, and forwarded him the money only to find out later she had been duped. 

Antolik is glad he didn't fall for it but says he can see how others might be fooled.

"It makes me very angry," he said. "I was shook up for about an hour after that before I actually settled down, and all I could think of was, what can I do? What can I do to alert everybody? That's when I thought of 3 On Your Side."

3 On Your Side continues to receive emails from viewers saying they got a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS and they want to know if it's legit. Always remember, the IRS will not text, call or email you.

If you've been targeted by the phone scam, you can use the Federal Trade Commission complaint assistant at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information.

For information about how to protect yourself, click here.