Warning: 'It’s a scammer using the IRS as a lure'

Warning: 'It’s a scammer using the IRS as a lure' »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Eyewitness News viewers reached out about a phone scam where the caller claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

The caller generally tells the victim they owe money to the government and in many cases threaten an arrest.

Monica Martinez tells us about a phone call she received from someone claiming to be from the IRS on July 14: “You owe taxes of the amount of $1600. An officer will be at your location to serve you with a warrant. In about 45 minutes, you are going to jail.”

Martinez was so concerned she wrote a note to her boss saying she was being arrested for unpaid taxes and asking her to call her husband.

Martinez later found out it was a scam.

“It’s a phone call allegedly from the IRS,” says IRS spokesman Raphael Tulino. “It’s not. It’s a scammer using the IRS as a lure.”

He said the IRS is aware of the scam that has been circulating the country for about a year now targeting taxpayers.

Brenda Fierro was also targeted twice.

A few days after returning from her honeymoon, Fierro got her first call claiming they were with the IRS. She said the caller was polite at first but then her demeanor changed.

“Her voice changes to very aggressive, and she’s like, 'We’re calling about your delinquent taxes,'" described Fierro.

She was then told she would be going to jail for five years for the more than $2,900 she supposedly owed to the U.S. government.

“I said, 'Well, why is this the first time I’m hearing about it?'" Fierro said.

After a second message from them a few weeks later, Fierro called back again.

This time, she was told she could correct the problem immediately before it went to the courts by following a strict directive. The caller told Fierro to go to the bank for cash, and then purchase a specific type of prepaid debit card. She was also told she had to do it while she was on the phone with them and within 35 minutes.

“Under no circumstance is the IRS going to call you out of the blue demanding that you pay taxes owed on a prepaid debit card,” said Tulino. “If you get contact with the IRS, it’s a letter in the mail, and if you have taxes owed then you can pay them a variety of different ways.”"

If you want to learn more about the scams or to report one, you can go to IRS.gov.