Multimillion-dollar fraud bust highlights tax scam to be aware of

Twenty-two of the defendants were ordered to pay $8.97 million in restitution to the victims as part of the punishment for their crimes. Twenty-one of the defendants must also pay more than $72.9 million in judgments. A total of 56 individuals, as well as five companies in India, have been charged in connection with the scheme.

The alleged perpetrators operated their scam from 2012 to 2016, whereby they would call U.S. residents and claim to be the IRS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

They would then demand money be wired to them or paid via stored value cards. They would threaten the victims with arrest, imprisonment, deportation or fines if they did not comply.

A website has been created to provide more information about the case and it includes a form for potential victims of the scheme to fill out.

Once individuals provide evidence of their losses – including receipts and cards purchased – the claims will be evaluated to determine if they are victims entitled to restitution, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

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The restitution order may be changed up to 60 days after sentencing, which is Sept. 14, according to the spokeswoman.

The scam is one of the IRS’ “dirty dozen” tax scams to watch out for, and all are prevalent year-round, not just during tax time, said Susan Allen, senior manager for tax practice and ethics for the American Institute of CPAs.

“These scammers are sophisticated and they’re good — good in all the wrong ways,” Allen said. “They’re good at what they do.”

Allen said she has had the call happen to her personally, and even she was caught off guard.

That is because the scammers will say something to get your attention — that you owe money, there’s a warrant for your arrest and someone is coming to your house.

“They can kind of lure you in,” Allen said.

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