Listeners of The Scammercast may remember that we did an episode a few months ago in which we played audio from a call my co-host Curtis received from a scammer named “Steve Martin.” It was the usual routine: “This is Steve Martin from the US Department of Treasury, advising you of pending legal action,” blah blah blah.
Well, according to an article in USAToday, good old Steve is back on the job, but with some important new twists for you to be aware of.
Apparently Steve and his scammer buddies are mailing or faxing false tax forms to get people to send money or “verifying their personal information,” according to Luis Garcia, an IRS spokesman in Detroit.
Another interesting twist is a “reloading scam,” in which the crooks are claiming to be from the Federal Trade Commission and offer to “help” you recover money lost in a scam. How thoughtful!!
Often, according to the police in Detroit, the scammers threaten to send out agents to arrest you if you don’t pay and ask you to send the money via a service such as Western Union or a prepaid card. You’ll recall that these 2 tactics are part of our 10 Dead Giveaways for a Scam and immediately indicate you should stop all contact with the caller.
This scam continues to be highly lucrative for the crooks, with the Treasury Department reporting 3052 victims from October 1, 2013 to March 9, 2015 and total losses for the period of $15.5 million, or around $5000 per victim on average. The highest reported loss was $500,000.
Remember: The IRS will not call you to demand immediate payment or tell you to wire money or put it on a prepaid card. The IRS will only send you a bill by mail for back taxes. If you’re not sure, call your tax person or the IRS at 800-829-1040. You can report a suspected tax scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484. You can also file a complaint at www.ftc.gov, and be sure to put IRS telephone scam in your comments.
The real Steve Martin was a “wild and crazy guy.” The phony Steve Martin is nothing but a thief perpetrating a wild and crazy scam on the unwary.