Fake IRS agents have targeted more than 366,000 people with harassing phone calls demanding payments and threatening jail as part of a huge nationwide tax scam.

Timothy Camus, a Treasury deputy inspector general for tax administration, said Thursday,

More than 3,000 people have fallen for the ruse.

They have been duped out of a total of $15.5 million. People in every state have been targeted.

 

"The criminals do not discriminate. They are calling people everywhere, of all income levels and backgrounds," Camus told the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing. "The number of complaints we have received about this scam make it the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of our agency."

The scam is so widespread that investigators believe there is more than one group of perpetrators, including some overseas.

As part of the scam, fake IRS agents call taxpayers, claim they owe taxes, and demand payment using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. Those who refuse are threatened with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license.

Here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Duane Deberg, owner of accounting firm Deberg Enterprises, tells us,

The IRS will never call you on the phone. They will only contact you by mail. If you get a phone call and the person on the other end claims to be with the IRS, it is no question that it's a scam.