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IRS warns of widespread scams

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ATLANTA -

Tax season is here, and the IRS is warning about a major scam that's hitting Metro Atlanta.

This scam has been circulating for a couple of months. It originated on the west coast and has made its way to the southeast.

Scam artists call unsuspecting tax payers, pretending to be the IRS and demand money.

Shauna Kaler of Gainesville got the call two days after she filed her taxes this year.

She received an automated message indicating the IRS had urgent business with her and that she needed to call back immediately.

"So I called them back and they gave me their spiel, that they're an officer, gave me their badge, supposedly their badge number, all this stuff and they said that I was fraudulent on my income tax for the last 3 years," said Kaler.

She was alarmed because the person on the line sounded extremely legit.

"They sounded very professional at the beginning and they tell you they're looking for so and so...your name, they know the last four digits of your social security number and your address."

The scammer asked her for $800 in back taxes. They wanted her to wire it via Western Union right away. When she refused, she says the caller's tone changed.

"They were adamant on me, do you have an attorney? You need to get an attorney because you owe this. Otherwise you will be arrested. I mean they make it, they're very...I know it scared me enough to call you guys (Fox 5)," said Kaler.

She hung up, and called her accountant, just to be sure. "And she told me I was actually the 2nd person to call her here in the Gainesville area with the same phone call from the same number."

Kaler looked up the number that she had just dialed on the Internet. She found a slew of complaints other people had lodged against the same number with the same spiel.

Mark Green with the IRS says they are aware of the scam and he says it's extremely sophisticated.

"This scam unfortunately has victimized a number of individuals," Green said.

"This scam has a little twist to it because technology has provided the scam artists a way of indicating on your caller ID that the call is actually coming from the Internal Revenue Service."

Green says the scammers threaten to arrest the victim if they refuse to pay. Or in many cases, they threaten deportation. Green says the scammers tend to target elderly tax payers or communities with high populations of recent immigrants.

Green says there are victims in Toccoa, Columbus, Gainesville, and Atlanta.

"If you receive a telephone call from the Internal Revenue Service stating that you owe money, simply hang up. Know that this is a scam. The Internal Revenue Service does not, I repeat, does not solicit by telephone, text or email personal information." The IRS generally does business via U.S. Mail.

The phone number that the scam originated from (in Shauna Kaler's case) is 716-202-0659.The IRS is investigating trying to find the source of the scam.

If you get a similar call, they want you to call your local police and then report it to the IRS.

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