IRS News Release  
July 13, 1992

Impersonators Caught by IRS

WASHINGTON - Each year impersonators swindle taxpayers out of thousands of dollars by posing as Internal Revenue Service employees. These impersonators gain access to confidential records through illegal schemes. Elderly people, widows, widowers, minorities and small businesses are often the targets of these impersonators.

These impersonators do not stay in one place. Their success depends on moving from place to place to find new individuals to swindle.

Fortunately, the Inspection Service of IRS catches and prosecutes many of these individuals. But many schemes go unreported because victims are too embarrassed to tell anyone what has happened to them. Other victims wait too long to call authorities and the impersonators escape.

On the west coast, an impersonator contacted Mexican workers and identified herself as an IRS employee. She advised the workers they owed back taxes and if they paid immediately, she would return the next day with a tax refund check. The impersonator threatened to bring the county sheriff to arrest them if they did not comply -- the workers paid the money she demanded. She plead guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

In the mid-west an impersonator called taxpayers and identified himself as an IRS agent conducting audits of their tax returns. During the calls, he obtained their social security numbers and financial information relating to their credit cards and checking accounts. The impersonator contacted the credit card companies and requested replacement cards under the victim's name and had the new cards sent to a bogus address. An accomplice later entered a local bank and stole $850 from one victim's checking account using financial information obtained by the impersonator.

IRS investigators and U.S. Postal Inspectors arrested both men at a post office while attempting to pick up the fraudulent credit cards. They were indicted on charges of false Impersonation. obstruction of mail, false statements and theft by deception. They are awaiting sentencing.

Eight impersonators involved in a sweepstakes scheme were sentenced to a combined total of 307 months imprisonment, ordered to pay over $22,000 in restitution and fines and must serve 1700 hours of community service on conspiracy and wire fraud charges. In this scheme, the impersonators called taxpayers and told them they had won a large cash sweepstakes. The impersonators told the taxpayers to wire money to a specified "IRS official" to pay the federal taxes on the winnings. They assured the taxpayers their winning checks would be sent when the tax payments were received. The impersonators kept the "tax" money and never sent the "winning checks" to the taxpayers. IRS has received complaints on similar schemes in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Ohio, Illinois and California.

If you are approached by anyone claiming to be an IRS employee, remember:

  • All IRS employees carry identification and are required to show it to taxpayers when they visit their homes or offices.
  • Your local IRS office address is either listed in your local telephone directory or you can call 1-800-829-1040 to verify the address.
  • IRS employees never have their names placed on payment checks. Make checks for federal taxes payable to Internal Revenue Service - not IRS. Spelling out the name makes it harder for criminals to alter the check.

If you suspect you are being victimized by an impersonator, immediately call your local IRS Inspector or the toll-free Inspection Hot-Line -- 1-800-366-4484.

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