Target of phony IRS tax scam warns others to watch out

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City, Kan., man targeted in a tax scam by someone claiming to be an IRS agent gave a warning Monday for other would-be victims: don't be fooled.

"He was completely threatening me with the threat of ruining my credit and ruining my life with this debt that he could have gotten rid of for next to nothing," Gabe Snowden, 35, said.

The scam was straightforward: A man who claimed to be an IRS agent called Snowden on his cell phone Monday afternoon. He explained that Snowden owed more than $7,000 on an auto loan, but that with a one-time payment of $1,400, the IRS could settle the debt. When Snowden balked, the phony IRS agent threatened him by telling him his credit would be ruined if he ignored the call.

Snowden hung up and called the police.

He described the caller as "very rehearsed," and knowledgeable about auto loans. But Snowden's suspicions were aroused by the fact that he has no outstanding car-related debt that he is aware of and did not think debt on a car note would be within the IRS's scope. He also recalled a similar scam reported on 41 Action News last November.

At that time, the IRS (the real IRS) was warning of a "pervasive" scam in which imposter agents would call targeted individuals and ask for payment. The ask was usually, but not always, accompanied by a threat-- either of deportation or jail time-- as many of the targets were recent immigrants.

"If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don't pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn't the IRS calling," acting commissioner Danny Werfel said last October.

He added that the IRS first communication on a tax issue usually arrives via the mail.

The IRS says the best way to avoid becoming a victim of a tax scam is to call them if something sounds fishy. If you think you might owe money and want to clear things up, call 1-800-829-1040. To report a possible scam, contact the FTC at FTC.gov, or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

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