IRS scams emerge in Sublette County

PINEDALE – When David Mendenhall, of

Pinedale, checked his voice messages, he was

informed that he owed back taxes and federal

officers were being sent to arrest him.

The message gave him a phone number to

call and insisted that he call within two hours and

pay back taxes. The caller promised that Mendenhall’s

failure to cough up the funds guaranteed

liens would be filed and the dreaded federal

police would be knocking on his doors.

Lucky for Mendenhall, by the time he

checked his phone messages many hours after

the call was placed, the promise of his pending

arrest never happened. Instead of calling the

number, he called the Sublette County Sheriff’s

Department and reported the threatening call.

Three days later the Sublette Examiner called

the number left by the caller. The number was


This is only one of many scams circulating as

the public starts to receive W-2 forms from employers

and attention turns to filing tax returns.

The scams are so common that warnings are

posted on the Internal Revenue Service website

including warnings to guard against scam phone

calls from thieves intent on stealing money or a

person’s identity. Criminals pose as the IRS to

trick victims out of their money or personal information.

Some of the common scams include:

• Scammers make unsolicited calls. Thieves

claiming to be IRS officials call taxpayers. They

demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They

con the victim into sending cash, usually through

a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may

also leave “urgent” callback requests through

phone “robo-calls” or via phishing email.

• Callers try to scare their victims. Many

phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully

a victim into paying. They may even threaten to

arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim

if they don’t get the money.

• Scams use caller identification spoofing.

Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look

like the IRS or another agency is calling. The

callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers

to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s

name, address and other personal information to

make the call sound official.

• Cons try new tricks all the time. Some

schemes provide an actual IRS address where

they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment

they make. Others use emails that contain

a fake IRS document with a phone number or an

email address for a reply. These scams often use

official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail

that they send to their victims. They try these

ploys to make the ruse look official.

Scams cost victims more than $23 million annually.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax

Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports

of about 736,000 scam contacts since October

2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively

paid more than $23 million as a result of the

scam, according to the IRS website.

The IRS will not:

• Call you to demand immediate payment.

The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without

first sending you a bill in the mail.

• Demand that you pay taxes and not allow

you to question or appeal the amount you owe.

• Require that you pay your taxes a certain

way, for instance, pay with a prepaid debit card.

• Ask for your credit or debit card numbers

over the phone.

• Threaten to bring in police or other agencies

to arrest you for not paying.

Protect yourself.

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to

think that you do:

• Do not give out any information. Hang up


• Contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General

for Tax Administration to report the call.

Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting”

webpage. You can also call 800-366-4484.

• Report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.

gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the


If you know you owe, or think you may owe

taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers

can help you.

Phone scams first tried to sting older people,

new immigrants to the United States and those

who speak English as a second language. Now

the crooks try to swindle just about anyone. And

they’ve ripped off people in every state in the


Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure.

Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just

at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer

Alerts“ on


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