September 16, 2014 14:10
The Portland Police Bureau has received two recent reports where victims stated that someone claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) called them and demanded money for back taxes.
In one incident in late August, the victim received a voice mail from someone claiming to be from the "Tax Fraud Department" of the IRS. The caller claimed that the victim owed money to the IRS and if they did not pay, the County Sheriff would make an arrest. The victim did not call the number back and did not lose any money.
In another incident in early September, the victim reported a similar call from a "Federal Crimes Investigator" from the IRS, claiming that the victim owed money from back taxes and that if she did not pay, police would respond and take the victim to jail.
Although the victim was suspicious, the caller convinced her that it was a legitimate call and told the victim to go purchase MoneyPak reloadable cards, then call back and provide the numbers over the phone.
Unfortunately the victim did what the scammer requested and lost nearly $12,000.
Similar scams have been reported in the past year where callers claim to be with a utility or other government agency demanding money.
If you question the authenticity of a call asking for payment, hang up and contact the utility or government agency directly.
Tips to help avoid becoming a victim to this scam include:
*Never give personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller or email.
*Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
*Utility companies and government agencies will never contact you for payment by GreenDot, MoneyPak or Vanilla Reload.
*Remember that anyone who has the number on a prepaid card has access to the funds on your card.
*Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers to a stranger.
MoneyPak/Green Dot and Vanilla Reload have online tools to allow purchasers to request a refund if the scammer has not yet cashed the card.
For more information, please visit https://www.moneypak.com/refundrequest.aspx
for MoneyPak/Green Dot and https://www.vanillareload.com/index.php/refund
for Vanilla Reload.
"People should stay vigilant and avoid becoming a victim if they receive contact from someone claiming to be from the IRS who demands money," said Preston C. Lamb, Special Agent in Charge for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
"Federal, State and local law enforcement and consumer protection officials are doing an outstanding job educating taxpayers about the scam and encouraging victims to contact TIGTA," Lamb said. "The most effective way for individuals to report scam attempts and losses is by filling out the "IRS Impersonation scam" form on TIGTA's website, www.treasury.gov/tigta."
If you are a resident of Portland and fall victim to these scammers with financial loss, you are encouraged to file a report by calling the Portland Police Bureau's Non-Emergency line at (503) 823-3333.
Resources are available for consumers to avoid becoming victims of scams and fraud at the Oregon Department of Justice. Information can be found online at: http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/pages/index.aspx
Sgt. Pete Simpson
Portland Police Bureau
1111 SW 2nd Ave, Suite 1526
Portland, Oregon 97204