SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - In spite of all the warnings and media attention that such scams have gotten, many residents continue to send money or give private financial information to scam artists who call them on the phone and make threats.
In Rowan and several surrounding counties over the last few weeks, the calls have increased in frequency.
Captain John Sifford of the Rowan Sheriff's Office told WBTV about one call in which an elderly woman was told that she had made a mistake on her most recent tax return, and that if she did not produce $4000, she would be arrested within the hour.
Typically the caller will tell the victim to go to a drug store or similar location and told to purchase gift cards in the amount requested and send them to the caller, or direct the funds to the caller.
Two weeks ago one woman told investigators that when she told the caller that she did not have a car, the caller offered to call a cab and have it pick her up to take her to the store and back.
WBTV contacted the IRS about the scam, and found out that it is a nationwide problem. The following is a statement provided by the IRS concerning the issue:
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. 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 like the IRS is calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and 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.
Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.
If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an "urgent" callback request.
Note that the IRS will never: 1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill; 2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe; 3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; 4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or 5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.