WASHINGTON — J. Russell George, Inspector General for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), announced today a major action concerning the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) telephone fraud scam. After an exhaustive three-year joint investigation, the US Department of Justice obtained an indictment on 56 individuals, some of whom are located in the United States, and five call centers located in India. This is the largest single domestic law enforcement action to date involving this scam. Despite this significant legal action, Inspector General George encouraged all members of the public to keep their guard up, as scammers like these are still in the business of cheating people.
“Today’s indictment is the result of countless hours of solid investigative work and excellent cross-governmental collaboration concerning the massive amounts of fraud that individuals have allegedly perpetrated on the American people,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “I am extremely proud of my investigative team and of the many efforts of hundreds of TIGTA employees who have played a role in this investigation. We will continue to pursue investigations into this type of criminal activity until we bring those involved to justice.”
Since the fall of 2013, TIGTA has been tracking and investigating this scam, which consists of criminals impersonating IRS employees in order to extort money from individuals in our communities. This is the largest, most pervasive telephone impersonation scam TIGTA has encountered in the history of the agency. To date, more than 1.8 million people have reported to TIGTA that they have received an impersonation call; more than 9,600 victims reported that they paid the criminal impersonators a total amount that exceeds $50 million. The largest single amount paid as a result of the IRS impersonation scam as charged in the indictment is $136,000, paid by a victim in California.
“All agencies involved in today’s announcement are to be congratulated and commended on their outstanding efforts resulting in this indictment,” he said. Most importantly, the work of TIGTA’s Office of Investigations, who processed the 1.8 million reports of the scam and worked tirelessly over the past three years, including many nights and weekends, is a shining example of what an agency can do when it dedicates itself to focusing on even the most tangled and complicated of criminal schemes,” he said. “I want to thank all of the dedicated law enforcement personnel who helped in obtaining the indictment of these individuals. I would especially like to recognize and thank the employees from the Federal Trade Commission for their efforts and the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau for partnering with us to initiate telephone call blocking strategies.
“It is very important to note that these arrests and indictments are just the start of the legal process. We are still actively conducting other investigations, and we hope to bring more cases in the future.”
Inspector General George added, “I want to make it very clear for everyone listening, that although the actions today are significant, members of the public must not let their guard down. We are concerned that scam and impersonation calls may continue, so it is important that if you receive a call from someone out of the blue who claims to represent the IRS or Treasury, and demands immediate payment to avoid arrest or a lawsuit, it is a scam, and the best thing to do is to just hang up the phone and report the call to us.”
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