SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --Have you received a threatening phone call recently saying you owe thousands of dollars to the IRS and you will be arrested if you don't pay? The federal government says it's the biggest phone fraud ever involving fake IRS agents. 7 On Your Side investigated.
Moraga resident Sherry Schumacher received one of these phone calls. "We got a call and I didn't recognize the number," Schumacher said. "It was a Washington, D.C. number and so we let it go to the answering machine, and there was this guy."
The voice message said, "My name is Ricky Johnson from Tax Litigation Department."
The message gave Schumacher a scare. "They were calling from the IRS and that there was some type of litigation," she said.
The voice message warned Schumacher not to disregard the message and said to return the phone call as soon as possible before any legal action look place.
Pacifica resident Jeanette Jacobi got a similar message. "He said, 'Well, ma'am, let me tell you what we have against you,'" she said.
When Jacobi called back, the man who answered told her she owed $8,500 and that she was being charged with tax evasion and police were coming to arrest her. The man told her that the IRS was going to seize all her personal assets.
When Jacobi told the man that she wanted to call her accountant, he told her that he couldn't save her in court. It was then that Jacobi suspected the call was a fake. She called her accountant, who informed her that what was happening to her was a con.
Jacobi and Schumacher both tried to catch the con men in action by calling them back but were hung up on. The phone number given to them turned out to be a magicJack number.
The con men had obtained phone lines from magicJack Internet phone service, where users can be anywhere in the world and choose a number with any area code. The con men used the 202 area code to appear to be from the IRS.
When 7 On Your Side informed magicJack about the situation, they said, "MagicJack takes all reports of fraud seriously and investigates them promptly to take appropriate action, including coordination and cooperation with law enforcement. MagicJack encourages consumers to be aware of how to protect themselves from various scams, regardless of the communication method."
"And I called 7 On Your Side because i thought, well, if i got so upset about it, there's probably many more people," Jacobi said.
"So thank you ABC," Schumacher said.