SOUTH BRUNSWICK - Police across central New Jersey are reporting a record outbreak of scam phone calls, with callers pretending to be government officials and trying to intimidate victims into paying fictitious back taxes.

Scam alerts have come in from police departments from South Brunswick in Middlesex County to Toms River in Ocean County. South Brunswick Police Detective Dennis Yuhauz says that on Monday alone, dispatchers in his department and three others in Middlesex County received a combined 1,000 calls from residents “reporting IRS scams, people pretending to be from the IRS, requesting that people give them money.”  Yuhauz says normally, his department will get a complaint “here and there” about an IRS scam. 

Most of the calls appear to be similar to a voicemail recording obtained by Kane In Your Corner, in which a man with a foreign accent appears to borrow the name of a famous actor. “My name is Dennis Quaid,” the voice says, “and I'm calling about an enforcement action undertaken by the U.S. Treasury.” Some intended victims report the caller’s name as “Dennis Grey” but the rest of the message is the same.

The Taxpayer Inspector General says nationwide, 290,000 scam phone calls have been received in the past year, and victims have been scammed out of a staggering $14 million

Police say the scammers often spoof caller ID to make it look like the call actually came from the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Treasury Department, but if voicemails are left, the return phone numbers given will not belong to legitimate government agencies.

Melissa Companick of the Better Business Bureau of New Jersey says her agency is seeing the scam “every day in bigger and bigger numbers”. She reminds consumers that government agencies will not attempt to collect taxes or other debts by phone; they will send official letters.