Phone scam IRS calling you

I know this scam seems to resurface every year about this time. Did you just received a scam call advising you that you are the subject of an IRS criminal investigation. This scam is ramping up again this year. IRS has a publication to give you some valuable information.

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, headlining the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for the 2016 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.

“Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”

“There are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment,” Koskinen added. “Some schemes may say you’re entitled to a huge refund. These all add up to trouble. Some simple tips can help protect you.”

The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so.

This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.

“The IRS continues working to warn taxpayers about phone scams and other schemes,” Koskinen said. “We especially want to thank the law-enforcement community, tax professionals, consumer advocates, the states, other government agencies and particularly the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for helping us in this battle against these persistent phone scams.”

Protect Yourself

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

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Donald A. Bambenek II
Bambenek Investigative Group
4810 Pt. Fosdick Drive NW,  200
Gig Harbor, Washington 98335-1711
(253) 255-6910
don@bambenekinvestigations.com
www.bambenekinvestigations.com

Member:
Association of Former Customs Special Agents (AFCSA)
Federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Association (FLEOA)
Intellenet
Pacific Northwest Association of Investigators (PNAI)
Pacific Northwest License, Tax, and Fraud Association (PNLTFA)

FTC Efforts to combat fraud affecting older Americans

In testimony before Congress today, the Federal Trade Commission described the current trends relating to fraud affecting older Americans, and how the FTC uses law enforcement and other tools at its disposal to combat these frauds.

Testifying on behalf of the Commission before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Lois Greisman, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices, said certain types of scams are more likely to affect older Americans, such as fraudulent prize promotion schemes. The Commission’s efforts to identify and stop illegal marketing affecting seniors has become increasingly vital as the population of older Americans is growing rapidly, the testimony states.

“To protect seniors, the Commission has implemented a multi-faceted approach that encompasses robust law enforcement, strategic policy initiatives, and vigorous consumer education and outreach,” the testimony states.

The Commission has identified several varieties of fraudulent and deceptive schemes that affect seniors, including: (1) sweepstakes, prize promotions and lotteries, (2) timeshare sales and re-sales, (3) health care products and services, (4) investments, business opportunities and work-from-home programs, (5) technical support services, and (6) charitable donations.

The Commission has filed 45 cases against 163 companies and 121 individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls, as well as numerous Do-Not-Call violations, many targeting older Americans, and it has brought 25 cases involving conduct that specifically targeted or disproportionately harmed older adults.

For example, the FTC has aggressively pursued the money transfer services commonly used in scams targeting older Americans. Just two weeks ago, Western Union agreed to historic settlements with the FTC and the Department of Justice. The FTC’s action alleged that despite knowing its service was used by scammers, including some who were using the so-called “grandparent” scam, Western Union failed to take reasonable steps to stop the frauds. As part of the FTC’s case, as well as a deferred prosecution agreement Western Union entered into with the Department of Justice, the company has agreed to pay $586 million to redress victims.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook (link is external), follow us on Twitter (link is external), read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Bambenek Investigative Group
4810 Pt. Fosdick Drive NW,  200
Gig Harbor, Washington 98335-1711
(253) 255-6910
don@bambenekinvestigations.com
www.bambenekinvestigations.com

Member:
Association of Former Customs Special Agents (AFCSA)
Federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Association (FLEOA)
Intellenet
Pacific Northwest Association of Investigators (PNAI)
Pacific Northwest License, Tax, and Fraud Association (PNLTFA)

Cops may not be able to moonlight at stadiums anymore

Secondary jobs in security for thousands of NYPD cops at places from banks to Yankee Stadium is in jeopardy as a new contract raises questions about who’s responsible if an ­officer gets sued or injured, sources said. This raises serious questions about LEO security jobs across the United States.

The contract, signed by a company when an LEO takes a secondary position, was amended to make clear that the firm is responsible for any medical coverage or legal issue that the ­officer might encounter while working such details.

The NYPD made the decision to amend the pact after a suit was filed against an off-duty cop working for a company.

 

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Donald A. Bambenek II
Bambenek Investigative Group
4810 Pt. Fosdick Drive NW,  200
Gig Harbor, Washington 98335-1711
(253) 255-6910
don@bambenekinvestigations.com
www.bambenekinvestigations.com

Member:
Association of Former Customs Special Agents (AFCSA)
Federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Association (FLEOA)
Intellenet
Pacific Northwest Association of Investigators (PNAI)
Pacific Northwest License, Tax, and Fraud Association (PNLTFA)
Washington Association of Legal Investigators (WALI)

Combatting Elder Financial Exploitation

Elder financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds or property. It has been described as an epidemic with society-wide repercussions. While combating elder financial exploitation is largely the responsibility of state and local social service, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies, the federal government has a role to play in this area as well.

It is difficult to prevent exploitation by individuals such as financial services providers, power of attorney agents, guardians, and paid in-home caregivers. Although states have primary responsibility for combating elder financial exploitation, the federal government could disseminate information on model power of attorney legislation, for example, to help states better safeguard against power of attorney abuse–one type of federal activity authorized under the Older Americans Act of 1965.

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Store ordered to stop selling counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes.

A cigarette maker got a court order in Syracuse, NY, this week to stop a store in Northern New York from selling large amounts of counterfeit Marlboros.

U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby issued an order Monday for the store in Hogansburg, on or near the Akwesasne Mohawk Indian Reservation, to stop selling the fake smokes. The store’s employees offered more than once to sell the undercover buyers discounted prices on bulk orders of 100 or more cartons, which they said Garrow could get on a day’s notice, the lawsuit said.

Philip Morris claims the store infringed on its trademark, and that the fake Marlboros could be more hazardous than the real ones.

Makers of counterfeit cigarettes don’t have to submit ingredient information to the Food and Drug Administration and don’t have to report “potentially harmful constituents in their tobacco or smoke” to government regulators, the lawsuit said.

 

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FDLE Busts Counterfeit Body Armor Ring

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Orlando Regional Operations Center arrested three people each on one count of organized scheme to defraud and one count of counterfeiting body armor.

Investigators allege that the owner of Alpha Inc., Scott Anderson, 57, Ocoee, Fla., sold counterfeit body armor at gun shows across Florida. Agents believe Scott Williams, 51, Ocoee, Fla., and Arami Rodriguez, 36, Ocoee, Fla., worked for Anderson and assisted in the manufacturing and selling of the fake body armor.

“These suspects sold dangerous products to unsuspecting consumers raking in large profits for themselves,” said FDLE Orlando Regional Operations Center Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks.

The investigation began in August 2013 when Point Blank Enterprises, Inc. received a customer complaint. The customer indicated that he purchased Point Blank body armor at a gun show in West Palm Beach, Fla. and thought the product was counterfeit. Point Blank Enterprises, Inc. determined the armor was fake and contacted FDLE.

Ballistic tests conducted on the bogus product determined it provided no ballistic protection.

On September 11, 2013, FDLE executed a search warrant at Alpha, Inc., 10 S. Cumberland Ave., Ocoee, Fla., and located counterfeit body armor from Point Blank, PACA (Protective Apparel Corporation of America), ABA (American Body Armor), Gall’s, First Choice, and OM Tactical.

Agents also located additional body armor labeled as Full Dragon Armor, Coloma, Mich., which was determined to be a fictitious company. Evidence recovered during the search found the Full Dragon body armor to be substandard.

 

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Longview, Texas police investigating counterfeit gold, silver scams

A Longview Police Department investigation into counterfeit gold and silver coins and bullion bars resulted in the arrest of James Leroy Frattarola, on October 4. Federal authorities have also been asked to assist in the investigation since some of the items counterfeited were U.S. coins.

Longview Police learned that in the course of events related to this case, local gold and silver outlets were sold fake items. Several of these items were, in turn, sold to unsuspecting retail customers. One dealer reports recovering all the fakes that he sold to customers but it is unknown if other counterfeit coins or bullion bars have been circulated.

Included among counterfeit items located in Longview were counterfeit Morgan silver dollars, gold Krugerrand coins, a gold $50 dollar U.S. coin, and numerous one-ounce silver bars. The silver bars confiscated locally are counterfeits labeled with the Northwest Territorial Mint out of Washington State insignia. Police contacted Northwest’s personnel. They were extremely helpful and offered expert advice during the investigation. The Northwest Territorial Mint’s website offers advice to help buyers avoid purchasing counterfeit silver bars.

 

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LAPD, US Customs Battle Counterfeit Goods Market, Multi-Billion Dollar Industry More Lucrative Than Drugs

In an era when terrorism and illegal narcotics pose a clear and present danger in urban America, why should U.S. law enforcement spend precious resources policing luxury handbags?
Because, authorities say, those fake handbags — and other counterfeit goods — are practically an ATM machine for organized crime.
“More than likely it’s going to finance some other illicit activity, whether it be terrorism, human trafficking, drugs or some such,” said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervisor Bryan Nahodil as he surveyed some 16,000 fake Hermes bags seized in Los Angeles.
Counterfeit goods are more lucrative than drugs, according to officers with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Vice Division and the CBP.

Counterfeit goods account for nearly 10 percent of worldwide trade, an estimated $500 billion annually, according to the World Customs Organization.
U.S. Customs officers said the black market for fake handbags, shoes, purses and other luxury goods helps fund other crime rings, including drugs and human trafficking.

The CBP insists importing counterfeit goods is “the same as importing drugs or people.”

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Hezbollah involvement with counterfeit medicine

According to an article in The Jerusalem Post, dated August 1, 2013, “Hezbollah runs a complex network of front companies in Lebanon, the Gulf states and Europe that trade in counterfeit medicine, Kuwaiti daily Al-Seyassah reported on Tuesday. This international business in counterfeit medicine “facilitates the group’s terrorist operations,” the report stated, and includes Iranian citizens.”

“The group exploits the free trade zone in the Gulf and in Europe to run its business.”

Hezbollah and terrorist groups have been financing activities through proceeds derived from involvement in counterfeit goods.

 

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Five Million Dollar reward for information

The Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of State , and Department of Homeland Security jointly announced a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of individuals allegedly responsible for the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE HSI Special Agent Victor Avila.

The FBI, in conjunction with ICE, has established a 24-hour tip line based in the United States to process the information. Individuals in the United States with information are encouraged to call 1-866-859-9778. Individuals in Mexico can provide information by calling +001 800-225-5324. Spanish language speakers will be available using either number. Anyone wishing to e-mail information can do so by visiting: https://tips.fbi.gov. All information is considered confidential.

The government of Mexico announced a reward of up to 10 million pesos for information leading to the arrest of individuals allegedly responsible for the murder and attempted murder. Individuals can call (55) 53-46-15-44 and (55) 53-46-00-00, extension 4748 in Mexico City. Outside of Mexico City, individuals can call 01-800-831-31-96 to provide information. Information may also be sent to the following e-mail address: denunciapgr@gob.mx. More information about the government of Mexico’s award can be found at www.recompensas.gob.mx.

Zapata and Avila were ambushed in Mexico on February 15, 2011, as they were traveling in their U.S. government-issued vehicle from the state of San Luis Potosi to Mexico City. Mexican authorities have detained several individuals in connection with this incident and the investigation continues at this time.

The U.S. reward is being offered by the U.S. government through the U.S. Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program, which was established by Congress in 1986. Additional information on this program can be found at: www.state.gov/p/inl/narc/rewards/index.htm.

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