This may only be the beginning of the end, but it’s sure a good start to a long-time issue U.S. tax payers have been dealing with for years.
Indian police have announced that they arrested over 70 people and are questioning over 600 more after uncovering a year-long stint of scammers posing as the IRS. This particular scam targets Americans, using scare tactics to demand payment for unpaid taxes.
On Tuesday, 200 Mumbai police officers raided nine fake call centers in India’s financial capital. Scammers used “spoofing” tactics to appear as if they were local callers, and would then leave voicemail messages to U.S. tax payers informing them that they must call back to fix their overdue back taxes.
Unfortunately, many who did call back believed the threats and dished out thousands of dollars to avoid a so-called “warrant for their arrest,” or a “police raid” that would happen within 30 minutes if they decided to hang up.
Mumbai police officer Parag Marere told the Associated Press (AP), that “the scam brought in more than $150,000 a day. If the scam netted that amount daily, it would have made almost $55 million in one year.”
Victims were asked to wire money, provide personal or financial information, or send pre-paid gift cards from Target, Walmart, or even Apple iTunes gift cards.
According to the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), at least 328 people paid out a total of $1.4 million to the scammers using iTunes gift cards as of midyear,” reported Forbes.
Hiya’s Data Reputations team has seen a 2,500% growth in IRS scams in the past two year which includes, the year the scam was claimed to be running.
The raid and arrests come in great timing. Just this August, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the creation of the “Robocall Strike Force”. This Strike Force will lead and develop solutions to prevent, detect, and filter unwanted robocalls. Wheeler also pushed major wireless and wireline phone companies, such as AT&T and Comcast, to take immediate action in providing technology that will block unwanted robocalls to all consumers at no charge.
In the meantime, while the Robocall Strike Force develops plans to keep U.S. consumers safe, it’s nice to know there are at least 700 less scammers on the phone today.