After the Department of Justice arrested nearly two dozen people across the United States – and charged more overseas – in connection with a transnational Internal Revenue Service scam, some McHenry County police agencies said residents are getting ahead of these deceptive practices.
Members of the IRS, Homeland Security and the Treasury Department announced Thursday the arrest of 61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in the transnational organization that has victimized tens of thousands of people in the U.S., according to a news release. In addition to those in the U.S. involved, 32 individuals and five call centers in India also were charged.
The Department of Justice said call center operators allegedly called potential victims, using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, while pretending to be officials from the IRS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Those who were called were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government.
Other agencies involved in the investigation included the Hoffman Estates Police Department, the Naperville Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois, the New Jersey Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, among others.
Harvard Police Chief Mark Krause said that although these types of scams still crop up every once in a while, residents are becoming more aware of what to expect.
“We’ve been fortunate the last couple years. A lot of it comes down to critical thinking on behalf of potential victims,” Krause said. “The awareness in general has gotten so much better on some of these scams.”
McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Aimee Knop said the department offers quarterly scam presentations to seniors to raise awareness, in addition to the use of social media and other programs. She said the sheriff’s office also encourages those who have been a victim of an attempted scam to contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Office because those tips can lead to solving larger investigations, such as the most recent efforts of the Department of Justice.
One common scam is when a resident receives a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS who says the resident owes money in back taxes and will be arrested if they don’t pay.
“Thankfully, the DOJ is holding these offenders accountable,” Knop said. “Hopefully it sends a message to other scammers.”