The IRS is warning people about the “largest ever” phone fraud scam targeting taxpayers. In March alone, there have been at least 450,000 potential victims. In the interest of learning more about this phone-based threat, Pindrop has investigated the attacks and has successfully posed as a victim and recorded the call. To hear the complete audio and transcript of the interaction as well as the analysis of some of the tactics that these fraudsters are employing, go to the following site: https://www.pindrop.com/irs-phone-scam-live-call_analysis/. Note that in the audio files the voice of the victim is distorted (a Pindrop employee) to protect the identity. Here are the findings:
- Attackers are using magicJack VoIP phone numbers for consumers to “call back” as part of this attack. There is no reason to believe magicJack is in any way complicit with these attacks.
- The attackers appear to be operating out of India and are seeking approximately $5,000 per successful attack.
- The attackers are asking consumers to use GreenDot MoneyPak service to wire money to a Paypal account.
- As compared to previous attacks involving impersonation of the IRS, this attack involves much higher volumes, with complaints in excess of 10 times higher than previously seen. It is estimated the number of attack calls has already likely exceeded 450,000 in March.
The fraudsters use classic phone fraud scam techniques: they use a spoofed Caller ID that looks legitimate; they use urgency and threats to keep the caller on the line and force them to act quickly; they leave behind different numbers for “call backs” and they only use these numbers for a limited time. They make some basic checks to determine if the victim is someone they have interacted with previously.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:
They claim to be the Federal Investigation Department, a legal department working for the IRS. They do NOT target Americans. They are primarily targeting immigrants. They try to see if a third party (accountant) files taxes. Claim mistakes in taxes. Check if there are any overseas transactions. Threat of Arrest Warrant issued. Claim to not accept standard payment types (debit/credit cards), only Tax Pay Voucher from a Government Store such as Home Depot and Food Lion. Ask for zip code and then get a store close to that zip code.
They try to justify why money has to be wired to the restitutions Paypal account via prepaid card. Their card of choice is GreenDot MoneyPak.
Afterward, expect a call from the scammers alleging to be from GreenDot asking if you have purchased a MoneyPak card recently. The caller will state that to use the card, activation is required and will ask to provide the number on the back to gain access to the money on the card. The investigation is going on. Obviously, DO NOT PARTICIPATE.
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