WAKEFIELD — Police today are warning residents about an aggressive and sophisticated phone scam involving the Internal Revenue Service.

Now that tax season is here, people in Wakefield are reporting receiving calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, and in some cases the caller leaves a voice mail if no one answers the phone.

The caller is targeting U.S. citizens as well as recent immigrants, and police said they sound convincing when they call.

The callers are actually con artists and they use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look as if the IRS is actually calling, said an IRS spokesman.

Victims are commonly told they owe money to the IRS and that it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer.

If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s  license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Yesterday at about 1:45 p.m. police said they received several calls concerning the matter. One call came from a Texas number while another call appeared to have been made from a U.S. government office.

Most callers have foreign accents and berate residents if they do not cooperate.

An official from the IRS said that calls to people’s homes are never made and that taxpayers are notified about a matter through the U.S. mail.

Victims also may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.

If the phone isn’t answered, scammers often leave an urgent call-back request.

According to the IRS spokesman, agents never do the following:

• Call to demand immediate payment

• Call about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill.

• Demand that taxes be paid without giving the opportunity to question or appeal the amount said to be owed.

• Require taxpayers to use a specific payment method, such as prepaid debit card.

• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to make an arrest for not paying.

“We want residents to be safe and not respond to these scammers in any way,” said Lt. Craig Calabrese. “They are nothing but con artists out to take people’s money.”