7 On Your Side tries to track IRS phone scammers

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Many ABC7 News viewers have been getting menacing calls claiming that they owe money to the IRS. 7 On Your Side tried to track down the impostors.

Many ABC7 News viewers have been getting menacing calls claiming that they owe money to the IRS. Some callers threaten arrest and jail time. 7 On Your Side tried to track down the impostors.

It's tax time, so scammers hope people will believe it is really the IRS calling and they want as many potential victims as possible, so they are using a familiar, annoying tool -- robocalls.

Viewers are wondering how to stop them. The best way is to recognize the scam when you hear it.

San Francisco's Linda Gebroe woke up to a message on her answering machine. "The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing a lawsuit against you," the message said.

"Actually, at first, it did concern me because she said IRS and that gets your attention," Gebroe said.

The voice said Gebroe should call a certain phone number at the IRS. "Please call immediately on our department number, 206-905-9820," the message continued.

Gebroe also noticed the phone message sounded computer-generated. "When I calmed down after hearing IRS, I thought, 'Uh, maybe I'll check this out.' So I contacted my accountant," she said.

The accountant confirmed it was indeed a scam and officials say predators are using computers to call massive numbers of victims at once.

"I called 7 On Your Side because I thought people should know about it," Gebroe said.

She wasn't alone. Reports came in from all over the Bay Area.

Herman in Sunnyvale says a phony IRS agent warned there was an arrest warrant out for him. Claire in Oakland says she got three messages, all saying that something terrible was going to happen to her. Ron in San Francisco says a caller threatened that an agent would put a lien on his house and take his wages.

Many wanted to know how to catch the scammers.

7 On Your Side dialed the Seattle phone number Gebroe had been instructed to call and it turns out that scammers use temporary Internet phone numbers and disconnect them after a few days to avoid being caught.

"It would be really good to be able to trace them and bust them," Gebroe said.

The IRS says nearly 3,000 taxpayers reported they fell victim to this scam. Altogether, they've paid $14 million to these con artists.

Remember, the IRS will never call demanding money or threaten someone with arrest.

The feds do want to hear from everyone who got a phony call, and you can easily file a report.

Related Topics:
societyconsumerscamscamsIRStaxes7 On Your Sideconsumer concernsSan Francisco
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