DENVER (CBS4) – The tax filing deadline has passed but tax scammers are still trying to get their hands on people’s money.
The Internal Revenue Service on Friday put out a warning about a phone scam that’s surging this spring. Officials say it’s the largest ever scam of its kind.
IRS impersonators are targeting people by phone. So far thousands of victims have lost more than $1 million.
Al Nadeau, 67, rested assured knowing he had already filed his taxes before deadline, so he was shocked when a few weeks later he received a strange phone call. He played his answering machine to find the following message:
“My name is Chris Rogers from Internal Revenue Service Department, IRS.”
“They said my taxes are all messed up and he wanted me to call him back right away,” Nadeau said.
Nadeau is one of thousands across the U.S. and in Colorado who have been targeted by the recent phone scam. Callers claiming to be IRS agents use intimidation to make threats and demand money.
“Do return the call as soon as possible before any legal litigation takes place,” the answering machine message said.
“I can’t stand these people that just take advantage of people,” Nadeau said.
“If you’ve never heard from us before and you get a phone call, well you’re probably not hearing from us,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said.
On Friday on Koskinen’s 25-city tour stop in Denver, he warned about the skyrocketing scams that carry stiff penalties.
“We’re willing to chase you to the end of the Earth and to throw you in jail if at all possible,” he said.
In fact, that’s exactly what happened to a Colorado Springs man who filed for more than $200,000 in fraudulent tax returns. He was caught and sentenced in February to seven years in federal prison — a sentence IRS investigators hope deters similar crimes.
“These people are trying to take our money; the little bit we have,” Nadeau said.
IRS officials say they never make first contact with people by phone — they always get something in the mail first.
For those who get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, officials say they should get their name and number, hang up, and call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040 with that information.