July 20, 2015
Prison Time for IRS $cammer
By Fatima Qamar - Senior, Tax & Business Services
The IRS receives 9000-12,000 calls every week regarding complaints about tax scams. The tax advisors at Marcum also advise our clients about recognizing and avoiding tax scams, and the Firm has issued alerts about the many scams that keep arising.
In January 2015, one such scammer, Sahil Patel, was sentenced by the district court to 14 years in prison, with an additional three years of supervised release and $1 million in fines, after he pleaded guilty to charges of orchestrating an extortion scheme that involved defrauding taxpayers throughout the United States.
During 2011 through 2013, Patel established call centers based in India, hiring English-speaking individuals to impersonate IRS and FBI agents. Patel provided lists of potential targets, who generally were financially distressed, to his co-conspirators in India, who placed calls to thousands of victims, demanding payments and threatening them with penalties and prosecution for fabricated crimes.
Voice-over-internet technology was used make it appear as though the calls were coming from U.S. governmental agencies. Call recipients were generally taxpayers with liens against their homes or those with some sort of public information easily obtained from the internet. Extorted funds were then transferred through numerous wire transactions, making it difficult to track where the money was being directed.
The scheme affected individuals in almost every state. In California, total losses were approximately $3.8 million, and in New York, $1.3 million.
Despite extensive publicity and many public warnings about the proliferation of tax scams like this one, taxpayers continue to receive and accept fraudulent calls. Contact your Marcum tax professional or the IRS should you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a government agency, before answering any questions on the phone.