I hope you'll forgive me for writing on the same topic as last week, but this is unprecedented. Last Thursday, our 11 Newsroom was slammed like never before with phone calls. We heard from people throughout southern Colorado all day long. They all had received the IRS scam phone call. Many of them got it not once, but twice and some, even three times.

A source with the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., said they believe a particular group of scammers specifically targeted the 719 area code. Some people were told they were being taken to court, others were warned that a police officer was on the way to their house, and still others were scared into believing that their home was under surveillance.

Why? Because of problems with their tax return. Don't believe it! These crooks will say anything to get you to pay them.

The Internal Revenue Service also wants you to know there's been a huge spike - 400 percent - in the number of phony emails being sent with viruses attached. Remember, the first contact from the IRS will be through the mail. Their notices will specifically tell you what questions they have and for what tax years. They also will ask you to send them back your information or to call them with information. Agents will never call and threaten you and demand immediate payment.

"We are making progress in the investigation of this scam, resulting in the successful prosecution of some individuals associated with it over the past year," said Inspector General J. Russell George. "A ringleader was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison. However, this is still a matter of high investigative priority."

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration continues to hear from folks all over the country who have been bombarded with calls. They're urging everyone to be on high alert. If you have neighbors, friends, and relatives who are seniors, make sure they've also heard about this scheme.

"The number of people receiving these calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is growing at an alarming rate," George said.

The con artists use common names, fake badge numbers, and may even know the last four digits of your Social Security number. The Caller ID could read out Washington, D.C. or even IRS, but that's fake, too. Don't let any of that scare you. They use fear and intimidation. By sticking together, we can outsmart the crooks!

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Contact Betty Sexton at bsexton@kktv11news.com or 578-0000.

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