Tell-tale signs of a tax scam

7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has the story.
Seven On Your Side
February 4, 2014 3:15:36 PM PST
Tax season's here and so are the scams. And there's a new twist to an old scheme to help prey on your fears and tax your bank account.

One man doesn't want to show his face, but he does want to tell his story.

He says he feels terrible because he got conned out of thousands over the phone by a scammer posing as an IRS agent, saying he owed thousands in back taxes.

It sounds far-fetched, but the taxpayer had an open file with the IRS and was in the process of settling an audit.

"I was scared, yes," he said.

The scammer left threatening voicemail messages.

"The Sheriff of New Jersey will approach you and issue a warrant for your arrest," the message says.

He says they threatened to put a lien on his car and deport him.

"They were going to charge me $32,000," he said.

The con-artist told him the only way out was to go the store and load up PayPal cards, putting $500 on each totaling $3,300.

Then he wanted the pin numbers on the back.

"That's not the way we do business," Gregory Tranchina,Special Agent With the IRS, said.

The IRS says watch for the tell-tale scam signs. First, the scammer will use a fake name, usually a common surname, and bogus IRS badge number.

The caller can spoof the caller ID to display the IRS toll free number and may know the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.

The fake agents will make threats of arrest or deportation and make follow up calls pretending to be from the local police or DMV.

"If somebody is threatening you or asking you for something that you just don't feel comfortable giving, don't give it," Tranchina said.

Our taxpayer got suspicious when he was asked for 4 grand more and was able to intercept the money he put on 3 of the cards, $1500. If you get a call that sounds fishy, Tranchina says use your judgment and hang up.

The big takeaway here is if you get a questionable call, get the number and report it to the IRS. Remember the IRS's first contact is never by phone or email. It comes regular snail mail and anyone asks you to put money on prepaid cards or wire money, do not do it. It's a scam.