IRS reports 90,000 contacted in scam - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

IRS reports 90,000 contacted in scam

FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) -

More than 90,000 cases have been reported. Bold scammers pretend to be from the IRS, and they often target the elderly and new immigrants.

"For me it was, 'Hey, I know you're a thief,'" said David Ragheb of Franklin. "I know you're stealing. I've heard all this and now what I'm trying to do is say you can't do this to people. Stop it!"

Thursday, Ragheb listened back to a call he recorded a few months ago from a Washington DC number claiming to be collecting money for the IRS.

"How will I get the money?" asked the caller.

"Go work," Ragheb replied. "Is your work to steal from people?"

"Yes sir," the caller replied. 

When Ragheb told the caller he knew he was working a scam, the caller caved and confessed.

"How do you walk out and say, 'My job is to steal from people?'" Ragheb asked the caller.

"I tried to change my job, sir," the caller replied. "I'll try my best to change jobs."

"If you have values, principles and religious beliefs, none of those will agree with what you're doing," said Ragheb. "I think those will play on your emotions."

Ragheb's far from alone in getting a call from someone pretending to be the IRS.

"Typically, they call claiming you owe taxes, and you have to pay right then, usually using a prepaid credit card," said Dan Boone of the IRS.

Of the 90,000 reports of the scam nationwide, Boone said more than 1,000 of them lost a combined total of $5 million. 

Boone said the IRS always contacts people in writing first, and they never demand payment by debit or credit card over the phone.

"Don't be fooled by the fact they may know a lot about you," said Boone. "They may have the last four digits of your social security number. They may know where you work, where you live."

With the calls usually coming from out of the country, Boone said they're hard to trace, and they're not slowing down.

Ragheb's previous conversation with his scammer ended with a quiet request.

"Pray for me to get a better job," the caller told Ragheb. "Just pray for me."

After finishing listening to the call, Ragheb called that Washington DC number again, just to find the caller is still pretending to be the IRS.

"We know the scams you're doing and that you're not from the IRS," Ragheb said. "We know, and we've got a TV crew here right with me. You want to say anything?"

"No, no, no, no," the caller replied. "They know everything, so goodbye."

Ragheb said he hopes his story will help someone end a call and contact the real IRS. 

"The problem is, you're attacking those who are weaker than you," said Ragheb. "The best thing is just to educate people. I think that's our way to serve those less fortunate than us."

Boone added the scams aren't just limited to phone calls. He said to keep in mind the IRS will not contact you by e-mail or through text messages.

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