PORTLAND, Ore. -- You’ve probably heard of the IRS scam. Someone calls you claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. The imposter says you owe back taxes and need to pay up or face arrest. Thousands of people have fallen for the scam and lost millions of dollars.
The AARP spoke with one of the imposters behind the scam. Jayesh Dubey, 19, worked in a call center in Mumbai, India.
“When we picked up the call, we’d pretend to be the IRS officers,” said Dubey. “We started like, ‘Hi, this is Officer Adam Smith. Thank you for calling the Internal Revenue Service. How May I Help you?”
Dubey said he worked in the call center because it paid well. Employees would call victims every day throughout the U.S.
“The owner used to churn 50,000 voicemails every day. We used to get around 10,000 to 15,000 callbacks,” explained Dubey.
As he convinced more and more people to fork over money, Dubey started to feel guilty.
“People used to want to cry on the call and then I started feeling bad,” Dubey said. “They used to take it from their neighbors, friends and everyone. It was really not good.”
Dubey quit just before police raided the call center in India. Investigators say the office was part of a larger operation that stole hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I would just say to the Americans that in the whole world, only people in America get most of the scam calls,” said Dubey. “Please don’t pay any money on the calls. That’s what I want to tell them.”
The IRS will not initiate contact with you by phone about back taxes and will not require payment by phone.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, imposter scams have grown by nearly 500 percent over the past four years. Often, victims feel pressured by these sophisticated scammers.
“They are getting you into a high emotional state of fear and then the rational part of your mind just shuts off which is why we believe this can happen to anybody,” warned Doug Shadel, AARP Washington state director.