Evil people have no shame. If they find a way to pilfer money from some innocent victim they’ll keep doing it.

The new year is a good time for everyone to be on the alert for phone scams. Michiganders lost nearly $2 million in tax scams in 2019. The evildoers have a book of trick plays in which they operate their schemes.

One would think no one possibly could hand over money to a scammer pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service, but some do. Or how about putting cash on a gift card to pay overdue taxes? After all of the warnings from law enforcement agencies about such scam traps, people still fall into them.

Michigan residents lost $1.89 million to impersonation scams relating to the IRS and overdue taxes, according to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The figures are for 12 months ending Oct. 1. The total reported dollar losses nationwide amounted to $82.19 million, according to the Detroit Free Press.

While Michigan is near the top for losses it’s far from the highest. States losing even bigger money included Illinois at $4.44 million; Florida at $4.95 million; Texas at $6.53 million; New Yorkers lost $8.54 million and Californians handed over $16.14 million.

And the loses could be much higher.

“Keep in mind that is reported victims; not everyone reports being scammed,” according to Luis Garcia, an IRS spokesperson from Detroit.

The last data from the federal government shows that 462 people in Michigan reported being scammed by the IRS impersonation fraud. Typically, they’re asking you to pay for your taxes in a hurry via gift cards. They might also pretend to be someone from local law enforcement working for the IRS.

In some cases, there are even reports of supposed IRS agents calling taxpayers to “inform” them that their identity has been stolen. And the fix? You’re somehow going to need to put cash on gift cards — and the scammer will ask you to provide access numbers off the card at some point.

Nationwide, the federal government heard from 15,408 financial victims of the IRS impersonation scam during the 12 months ending Oct. 1.

These scammers are bold and heartless. They are clever and intimidating. For them, picking the pockets of innocent victims is a business.

As a daily newspaper, we do our best to warn the public about these scams. There are many other forms of cheating where evil people take advantage of their victims. When someone contacts you about a suspicious way of doing business, don’t fall for it. Report the pretender to your nearest law enforcement agency and provide it with as much information about the caller as you can. 

Don’t get caught in a foolish fraud that makes no sense at the beginning of the conversation.