IRS scam resurgent in Western New York

Posted at 10:44 AM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-20 08:03:34-04

It's a call that can create instant panic: someone claiming you owe thousands of dollars to the federal government.

It's happened to Daniel Martone more than once. The scammer told Martone he owed $5,896 for back taxes and fees from 2010 to 2014. But the scammer said Martone could settle his debts by driving to Best Buy and purchasing Target gift cards in the amount he owed.

Jim Speyer is the Cheektowaga Assistant Police Chief. He said his department has been inundated with calls from concerned residents, including one victim who forked over $3,200 in iTunes gift cards.

“The problem is there's no way to follow up. It's one of those cases where some of these callers are from outside the country. So you really don't know where the phone calls originate,” Speyer said.

“Hang up right away. If you have any doubts, tell them you need time to make a decision. But don't give any personal information over the phone,” he advised.

Martone didn't. Thankfully, he said he knew better. “I said I’m going to call the real IRS. I'm going to get to the bottom of this. I don't think you are the real IRS. It's a sad thing that they do that to people.”

Experts said the IRS will never contact you by phone. It only alerts you by mail.