Authorities: $1 million IRS phone scam 'largest ever'

Published On: Mar 21 2014 04:56:55 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 21 2014 06:38:05 PM EDT

Authorities said $1 million has been stolen from thousands of unsuspecting people nationwide, including one person in the Orlando area.

ORLANDO, Fla. -

Federal authorities are warning taxpayers to be on guard if they get a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent.

Authorities said $1 million has been stolen from thousands of unsuspecting people nationwide, including Roberto Acevedo of Orlando.

It started with a phone call from a man claiming to be with the IRS.

Acevedo was told he was going to be arrested if he didn't pay what he owed the government in back taxes from the home he foreclosed on in December.

"My heart sank to my stomach," Acevedo said. "The information they had matched the timeline of events that were really happening in my life."

The man on the other line knew Acevedo's home address, the car he was driving, his Social Security number -- all his personal information.

"At the same time he was having ghost calls from a ghost caller ID app come to my phone marked as '911' and marked as the Orlando Police Department," Acevedo said.

Panicked, Acevedo listened, drove to the bank and withdrew $7,000.

The man gave an address of where to take the money.

Acevedo decided to Google that address and realized it was a Dollar Tree, not an IRS building.

"I said that doesn't make any sense to me, why the Dollar Tree is involved with taxes," said Acevedo.

Acevedo put the money back in the bank and called the police.

Acevedo is one of thousands of tax payers falling for the scam.

The IRS inspector general said victims across the country have lost more than $1 million and it's the same drill -- fake IRS agents call, demand payment and threaten those who refuse with arrest, deportation or loss of a driver's license.

"I was ruled by fear. I was doing all these decisions by fear and I'm a pretty smart guy, and if someone doesn't have that reaction to look at the red flag and stop, they can be in a dangerous situation, not only get robbed and lose money, but they can potentially get hurt," Acevedo said.

Acevedo has agreed to be a witness if the IRS finds and prosecutes the people behind this scam.

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