Berks woman: 'They scammed me out of more than $10,000'

Pa. attorney general warns about fake IRS scams

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Now that tax season is underway, Pennsylvania's top prosecutor has a warning for the state's residents.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday that consumers need to be aware of fraudulent calls and scams from people who are posing as IRS agents. The consumers are often told they need to send money right away or risk arrest by the IRS.

"Scam artists are always looking for ways to steal from consumers – and during tax season, impersonating the IRS and trying to scare you into paying them thousands of dollars becomes a popular tactic," Shapiro said. "My office is here to protect you, help you avoid being scammed, and go after these scammers anywhere we find them."

Local woman becomes victim

A Berks County woman recently fell victim to a scam after she was told by a caller that she owed the IRS thousands of dollars in back taxes. The caller said that agents were waiting outside her home to arrest her if she didn't pay her "tax debt immediately.

"I was petrified when someone called me, saying they were from the IRS and demanded money or else I would go to jail," said Michelle Albitz of Barto.

Albitz said she withdrew more than $10,000 from her bank and, as instructed, went to retail stores, bought gift cards, and then read the gift card information over the phone to the scam artists.

"They scammed me out of more than $10,000," Albitz said. "I learned not to answer the phone unless I recognize the number."

Tips to avoid becoming a victim

Shapiro offered a number of tips to help people avoid being scammed:

  • The IRS does not use threatening or aggressive calls. A scammer may threaten to involve the police, immigration officers or other law enforcement if you do not pay promptly. The IRS will not do that.
  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media, especially contact seeking personal financial information.
  • Do not trust the number you see on your caller ID, even if it appears to be coming from the IRS. Scam artists increasingly use a technique known as spoofing to trick caller ID into thinking the call is originating from a certain phone number.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone. Do not provide information over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from the IRS or your bank.
  • The IRS does not require taxpayers to use a specific method of payment such as a pre-paid debit card, money order, wire transfer, gift cards or cash.

The attorney general's Bureau of Consumer Protection also recommends an acronym for people to evaluate unsolicited phone calls or emails:

  • S: Sudden – The call or email is unexpected;
  • C: Contact – Scammers will contact you by phone, email or in-person;
  • A: Act Now – The request will be urgent and assert penalties if you do not act quickly;
  • M: Money or Information – The scammer will request money or personal information.

"With new technologies available like spoofing, it is more important than ever for people to be aware of these scam tactics and know the best way to protect themselves from being victimized," Shapiro said.

What to do if you're a victim

Pennsylvania residents who feel they have been victimized by an IRS scam or other scams should file a complaint with the attorney general's office by calling 800-441-2555 or emailing

DISCLAIMER FOR COMMENTS: The views expressed by public comments are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the TERMS OF USE  and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Your comments may be used on air. Be polite. Inappropriate posts or posts containing offsite links may be removed by the moderator.

This Week's Circulars


Berks Area News

Latest From The Newsroom