IRVING (CBS 11 NEWS) – Imagine getting a call from the IRS, threatening to seize your home and telling you local police are on their way to arrest you. It’s happening in Irving… but the calls are bogus.
Phony IRS calls to the Mahendra Thakrar home started about a month ago, claiming the family filed fraudulent income tax returns. Shobhana Thakrar took the first one.
“And that scared me first and then I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘You’ve been summoned to appear in the court and you haven’t responded so in half an hour you’re going to be arrested.'”
Panicked, Shobhana called Irving police who unexpectedly arrived inside that half hour window. “Looking at the police I just started shivering and I don’t like it. And I asked, ‘Are you come to catch me?’ And he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve come to save you.’
Irving police Officer James McLellan said callers seem to be targeting people with southeast Asian names, especially Indian. “The scammer will call and they will threaten or intimidate the victim into thinking they have some kind of overdue IRS debt.”
Callers are sophisticated. McLellan says they’ve manipulated computer software so the target’s caller ID seems to display a legitimate IRS or police phone number. “We’ve had anything ranging from just a few hundred dollars up to $16- or $17,000.”
Dr. Mahendra Thakrar, Shobhana’s husband, said a colleague informed him the calls are part of a nationwide scamming attempt.
“He said, ‘Mahendra, don’t worry.’ His sister-in-law got a similar phone call [and] his sister in California got a phone call. There are a lot of phone calls — mostly targeting East Indians.”
Still, Mahendra finds it all unnerving. ” It’s scary, somebody should go after this guy. Someone told me they made millions out of this kind of phone call.”
Later Friday Mrs. Thakrar had another conversation with the phony agent. It went, in part, “…we have received a legal affidavit against your name,” for taxes allegedly unpaid between 2008 and 2012. The man said, “It was rather a willful act that was done with an intent to defraud the Internal Revenue Services.” Later in the conversation he told Thakrar, “The total amount you owe the Internal Revenue Services is exactly $1457.” The caller further said, “This means an IRS would make a legal lien on your debt, your house, your property, and your car, along with your all bank accounts would be frozen and confiscated.”
Officer McLellan cautions that because of the complexity of tracking digital crimes, and the fact the criminal may be overseas, it’s unlikely the person could ever be prosecuted. The best defense is to get the caller’s name and badge number, then call the real IRS or police.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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