National News

Mar 20, 2014 10:56 PM by Associated Press

IRS watchdog says phone scam is largest ever

WASHINGTON (AP) - A government watchdog says more than 20,000 taxpayers have been targeted by fake IRS agents in the largest phone scam the agency has ever seen.

The IRS inspector general says thousands of victims have lost a total of more than $1 million. As part of the scam, fake IRS agents call taxpayers, claim they owe taxes, and demand payment using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer.

Those who refuse are threatened with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license.

J. Russell George is the IRS inspector general. He said Thursday that real IRS agents usually contact people first by mail. He says real agents don't demand payment by debit card, credit card or wire transfer.

He says people have been targeted in nearly every state.

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