SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The top scam targeting Americans this year were calls from bogus Internal Revenue Service agents claiming you need to pay up on back taxes, according to the The Better Business Bureau.

Mary Van Essendelft was among the many who fell victim to the scam.

“He says to me, ‘This is the IRS,'” she told CBS. “He said don’t tell anybody, don’t call anybody because your house is bugged.”

Van Essendelft said she sent nearly $100,000 to the con artist.

The Better Business Bureau says tax scams similar to the one that targeted Van Essendelft were the top scams consumers faced in 2016.

In other popular scams, con artists posed as debt collectors, told potential victims they had won a sweepstakes or that they were in line for a big job offer.

“This can really happen to anyone,” said Emma Fletcher of the Better Business Bureau. “They love to create a sense of urgency to get you into a heightened emotional state where you need to get them that money immediately.”

That’s what happened to Linda Williams. A con artist claimed she had won $50,000 but needed to wire him cash to be able to access the money.

“I thought, eventually, I guess I hoped that this was real,” she said.

Fletcher said there are some red flags to be on the alert for.

“They’re asking you to transfer money through a wire transfer service or asking you to pay with a gift card, money card, green dot, those are big red flags,” she said.

Here are the top 10 scams to be on alert for.


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