The FBI and Department of Justice need to crack down on an exploding number of scammers claiming to be from the IRS, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Monday.
The con artists tell unsuspecting people that they owe taxes and demand that they pay up via a wire transfer by transferring money onto a prepaid card. The scammers then claim that if the money is not paid back right away they will be arrested, forced to come to court, or deported.
All told, more than 4,500 people across the country have fallen victim to the scam, coughing up nearly $ 30 million, Schumer said.
“Literally tens of millions of dollars have been taken out of the pockets of innocent New Yorkers by this evil scam,” the lawmaker told reporters. “It’s just disgusting.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer has urged the FBI to do more to hunt down con artists pretending to be the IRS when they call residents and claim they owe taxes.
Many of the fake callers target seniors.
“Can you imagine being a 75-year-old person getting this call and saying you might be arrested, please send us money?” said Schumer, who said the scam is “spreading like wildfire.”
He urged the FBI to better investigate the source of the calls and to shut down the operations that keep them going.
“Bottom line, the FBI must ramp up efforts to identify the source of this fraud and to lower the legal hammer on the scammers,” he said.
The swindlers can be convincing when they call people and threaten to have them arrested for unpaid taxes.
New York’s senior lawmaker also called on mail order companies like MoneyGram and Western Union to warn consumers that the IRS does not operate in that manner.
The scams are sophisticated and often convincing.
During the phone call, the scammers often reveal some personal information about the victim like a home address. Sometimes, a real looking email with the IRS logo will be sent afterward to seal the bogus deal.