IRS and Police Warn Connecticut Residents About Tax Scam

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC CONNECTICUT

    Just in time for tax season, a scheme targeting taxpayers is being reported.

    Viraj Najik was in his South Windsor home, when he received a call.

    "I was literally terrified," explained Najik.

    The person calling Najik claimed to be with the IRS; he gave Najik his name and badge number, and then told him he was in trouble.

    "He says, 'the IRS has decided to sue you for intent to defraud the IRS. They looked at your 2008-2012 [tax] returns and decided that you have been willfully defrauding them,'" said Najik.

    Najik said none of what he was hearing made sense, because he paid his taxes. Then, the situation escalated.

    "[He said] they are going to sue you. They are going to put a lien on your house, garnish your wage, notify your employer. You'll be jailed."

    Najik was then told he could avoid the hassle, if he paid the IRS immediately. The payment had to be sent electronically.

    "He says, 'do you have the $2,467 in cash? Just go to the bank, then get to the store and keep the phone on. Don't talk to anyone,'" said Najik.

    Najik said at that moment, he knew he wouldn't be able to make it to the store in time; that's when he started thinking: is this a scam?

    "It's a scam. It's something you shouldn't do. You should never blindly send any money to any agency, any person, for any reason," said Lt. Paul Vance with State Police.

    Unfortunately, what happened to Najik, has happened to a lot of people. Peggy Riley, with the Internal Revenue Service said scams like that are so prevalent, that IRS had to put taxpayers on notice last fall.

    "We're trying to get the word out…to let taxpayers know this is a scam, and not to fall prey to it," said Riley.

    Najik realized he was being scammed, and didn't send the money. However, looking back, he said the only reason he initially believed it was a legitimate call is because after he hung up on the IRS impersonator, he received another call. It was a 911 number. The caller claimed to be an officer and threatened to arrest Najik. 

    "He says, 'Tell me where you are. I'm coming right now to get you,'" said Najik.

    Najik said he hung up and called 911; dispatch said they didn't call him. So, how did the scammers get "911" to show up on Najik's caller ID?

    It's called spoofing and unfortunately, it's pretty easy to do. There are a number of websites that help people hide their identity while making a call. Some websites even have a function that helps callers disguise their voice.

    Riley said taxpayers should remember that federal/state agencies like the IRS or state police don't call people demanding cash or threatening arrest. She said if you owe the IRS money, chances are, you'd know it.

    "We'll send you a notice in the mail, first. And then they may follow up with a phone call, but we're not going to be threatening and asking you to send a pre-paid debit card immediately to pay off that tax bill," explained Riley.

    So, what do you do if you get a phone call like the one Viraj Najik received? Lt. Vance said first, you should hang up.

    "[Then] call police. When you get any kind of interference of a threat of any kind, call your local or state police and report it," stated Lt. Vance.

    Experts also remind people to be wary of sending money through wire transfers; there's very little police can do to recover your funds.