Lead from Senator Susan Collins’ Committee Results in Arrest of Five Suspected IRS Impersonation Scammers

Together these five suspects have allegedly scammed almost $2 million from more than 1,500 victims

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, announced today that as a result of a lead reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has arrested five individuals connected with the IRS impersonation scam. Two individuals were identified as a direct result of the crucial information provided by a fraud investigator with the Aging Committee’s Hotline.  

“Putting a stop to aggressive and ruthless scams such as the IRS impersonation scam is among my highest priorities as Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee,” said Senator Susan Collins.  “Thanks to the quick actions of the investigators who staff our Fraud Hotline, the Inspector General has made significant arrests in the fight against a pernicious scam.  These actions should also put criminals on notice that we will relentlessly pursue those who seek to rob seniors of their hard-earned savings.”

The arrests stem from a call to the Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline in October 2015.  The caller reported that her husband had recently been contacted by an individual claiming to be from the IRS and demanding immediate payment of alleged back taxes.  The victim was instructed by the scammer to drive to his local Walmart to wire nearly $2,000 via MoneyGram.  On his way to the retailer, the distraught victim crashed his car.  The victim was so convinced that the scammer was an authentic IRS agent, however, that he left the scene of the accident to wire the payment in order to avoid the scammer’s threats of possible legal action.

The Fraud Hotline investigator who received the victim’s report was able to trace the wire transfer to Minnesota and reported this information to TIGTA.  TIGTA sent agents to Minnesota, pulled surveillance tapes, and quickly identified two suspects.  TIGTA’s investigation led them to identify the three additional suspects.  All five suspects were arrested in Miami, Florida, on May 23, 2016, and subsequently charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

According to the court documents, the suspects are responsible for almost $2 million in schemes that defrauded more than 1,500 victims.  This is the largest single action TIGTA has taken in the history of the IRS impersonation scam.

Last April, Senator Collins chaired a hearing that examined IRS impersonation scams and efforts by law enforcement to put a stop to them and find and prosecute those involved. 

In 2015, the Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470) received more than 1,100 calls from seniors across the country.  The most common complaint reported to the Fraud Hotline was the IRS impersonation scam.  This data was used to publish a comprehensive anti-fraud resource guide titled, Fighting Fraud: U.S. Senate Aging Committee Identifies Top 10 Scams Targeting Our Nation’s Seniors.