ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A New Port Richey man is sentenced to spend the next 10 years in federal prison for extorting money impersonating the IRS.
Federal investigators say 24-year-old Andrew Corrigan and a second man told victims they owed money to the IRS or even Canadian tax authorities. A judge ordered Corrigan to pay more than $870,000 back to his victims.
And he’s far from the one using this same ploy. The IRS reports over the past four years, criminals scammed nearly 600 Floridians out of an estimated $3.4 million.
Florida ranks 5th nationwide for the highest losses in these type scams.
Across the Tampa Bay area, an entire team of Federal Special Agents is working year-round to investigate these type crimes -- the first can start in your e-mail’s inbox with just a simple click.
“Criminals are continuing to use fishing e-mails,” said Mary Hammond, Special Agent-in-charge of the IRS Criminal Division for all of north and west Florida. “It’s where you get an e-mail from someone posing as the IRS.
"There’s two things that could be included. There could be a link that you click on where they’re trying to get your personal information or your financial information. There could also be malware that they’re wanting you to download that would infect your computer.”
Other scammers will actually call you on the phone. Investigators say when you’re dealing with the real IRS, there are a few things they’ll never say.
“The IRS will not threaten to arrest you,” Hammond said. “We will not threaten a lawsuit for you to pay your tax. We also will not mandate the type of payment you use.
"We’re not going to ask you to use a reloadable debit card… and we’re not going to make you use a gift card. All of these things are telltale signs you’re on the phone with a scammer.”
So what happens if you’re the victim? The IRS says the first thing you should do isfile a report with your local police department.
“Once you file a police report you need to file an identity theft affidavit with the IRS,” Hammond said. “Contacting the IRS quickly is the best thing you can do so we can start protecting your account. You also want to contact at least one of the three major credit bureau if you’ve provided information to a scammer to protect your credit.”
Of course, the next step is providing investigators with any information you might have so they can catch these guys and prevent the same thing from happening to other people. Both the FTC and the Treasury Inspector General have websites where you can report IRS impersonation scams.
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