New technologies aided a massive phone scam, but investigators turned the tables on the scheme, which allegedly caused ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ in taxpayer losses.

On Nov. 24, 2014, a woman named Diana received a menacing phone call in Hernando, Miss., a small city nestled in the northwest corner of the state. A caller purporting to be an IRS agent claimed she owed back taxes and told her that agents were waiting to arrest her unless she paid up immediately. The caller was insistent, threatening, and urging her to act quickly.

The demands eventually produced the desired result: After the “agent” ordered her to withdraw $19,625 in cash, Diana bought 21 prepaid cards called MoneyPaks equaling that amount at a local store. After purchasing the cards, she read the unique serial number off each MoneyPak card to the caller, effectively giving him all her money.

The caller wasn’t actually an IRS agent; he was an impostor from Worldwide Solution, a call center in India. No agents waited outside. Diana owed no back taxes. Hers just happened to be one of the millions of phone numbers dialed by an international conspiracy of con artists running a series of impostor schemes, according to a federal indictment issued in October 2016.

Read more from The Journal of Accountancy.


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