Phone-Based Fraud Takes Off During Tax Time
Security firm Pindrop finds a phone fraud ring that may have targeted more than 450,000 people, mostly immigrants and foreign nationals, in attempts to extort phony tax payments.Scammers are going back to the basics, increasingly using old-school telephone calls to defraud victims, with one group of grifters targeting up to half a million consumers, according to analysis published on April 17 by anti-fraud firm Pindrop Security. Following a warning by the Internal Revenue Service of stepped-up fraud targeting consumers, Pindrop analyzed its database of suspect phone numbers and discovered that at least 235 phone numbers appeared to be connected to a group conducting IRS tax scams in March. Using rough calculations of the calls that could be made from each phone number, the company estimated that, potentially, more than 450,000 consumers have been targeted by the group. The group appears to be operating out of India, Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop Security, told eWEEK. "For a 30-minute call, sitting in India and making $2,500 or $5,000 by the end of the day, it is a totally worthwhile investment of time for these guys," Balasubramaniyan said. "You can apply all the emotional pressure on the phone that you can't apply using email."
On April 14, the Internal Revenue Service warned consumers to beware aggressive and sophisticated attacks by fraudsters that have access to detailed personal information, such as the last four digits of their social security numbers. In many cases, the scammers target foreign workers and immigrants, threatening to deport them unless their "fines" are paid.