Senators Collins, McCaskill Applaud Announcement of Major Legal Action AGainst 56 IRS Impersonation Scammers, 5 Call Centers Located in India

This is the largest single domestic law enforcement action to date involving this scam

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, applauded the announcement today by a group of federal agencies concerning the indictment of 56 individuals and five call centers located in India accused of preying on American seniors by impersonating government officials. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission announced the indictments, the result of a three-year investigation that was the largest single domestic law enforcement action connected with the impersonation scam.

As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Aging Committee, Senators Collins and McCaskill have long led efforts to shed light on scams by encouraging a robust response from federal law enforcement agencies and cautioning all Americans, particularly seniors.

“Putting a stop to aggressive and ruthless scams such as the IRS impersonation scam has long been one of my highest priorities as Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee,” said Senator Collins. “I applaud the efforts of our law enforcement in making these significant arrests, which represents the largest single domestic law enforcement action ever involving the IRS scam. I am pleased that the Aging Committee’s work to raise awareness about these troubling scams continues to help the Department of Justice track down criminals who are intent on robbing Americans of their hard-earned money. These arrests should also put criminals on notice that we will be relentlessly pursuing these perpetrators.”

“These arrests—the largest law enforcement action against these scammers to date—are an enormous victory for the thousands of victims, many of them elderly, whose sense of financial responsibility has been preyed upon by these criminals,” said Senator McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor. “We’re now sending a clear and aggressive signal to these scam artists that they can no longer hide behind the anonymity of a call center or a blocked number to perpetuate a scam that’s made people afraid to answer their phones.”

Last April, Senators Collins and McCaskill held a hearing that examined IRS impersonation scams and work 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 continues to be the IRS impersonation scam. Data from the Fraud Hotline 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.

According to the Government Accountability Office, seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion to financial exploitation and fraud every year. With such scams reaching epidemic proportions across the country, the IRS has released several tips to help taxpayers identify suspicious calls that may be part of a scam:

  • The IRS will never call a taxpayer to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed a letter to the taxpayer.
  • The IRS will never demand that a taxpayer pay taxes without giving him or her the opportunity to question or appeal the amount claimed to be owed.
  • The IRS will never ask for a credit, debit, or gift card number over the phone.
  • The IRS will never threaten to send local police or other law enforcement to have a taxpayer arrested.
  • The IRS will never require a taxpayer to use a specific payment method for taxes, such as a prepaid debit card or gift card.