Five suspects were taken into custody by federal agents May 23 in Miami, Florida for their participation in a telephone scam against taxpayers. J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said the scammers impersonated IRS agents and used the threat of arrest to get money from victims, falsely claiming the taxpayers owed back taxes or other fees.
According to court documents, the scheme took in nearly $2 million from more than 1,500 victims. The taxpayer would get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, who said the taxpayer would be arrested if they didn’t make immediate payment. Further threats and intimidation were used to get the victim to use MoneyGram, Walmart-2-Walmart or other wire services for the payment.
The Inspector General noted the demand that payments be wired to the scammers is a hallmark of an illegal operation. “No legitimate United States Treasury or IRS official will demand that anyone make payments via MoneyGram, Western Union, Walmart-2-Walmart - or any other money wiring method – for any debt to the IRS or Department of the Treasury,” George said.
Agents arrested Jennifer Valerino Nunez, Dennis Delgado Caballero, Arnoldo Perez Mirabal, Yaritza Espinosa Diaz, and Roberto Fontanella Caballero without incident. Criminal complaints in the case were filed in U.S. District Court in Texas, Minnesota and Arkansas, charging the suspects with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Nationally, such schemes are responsible for more than $36 million in taxpayer losses, averaging more than $5,700 in losses per taxpayer.
George said the arrests were only the latest in a dedicated effort to bring these operations to justice. “The scammers are relentless and so are we,” he said. “Our investigators will not rest until we have brought each individual involved to justice.”