According to the IRS, a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers make aggressive calls posing as IRS agents, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers in hopes of stealing taxpayer money or personal information. 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 gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.
Over the weekend, our agency received a report from a local business very similar to the IRS impersonation phone scam.
An employee of the Hilton Head Island business reported a phone call, where the caller asked to speak to a manager. The store manager, who was on the phone for quite some time, made a written note regarding an audit to occur the following day. The next day when the employee arrived at work, they noticed missing money from the safe and called the store owner.
Once deputies spoke with the store manager and its owner, they learned the store manager had likely been a victim of a scam.
The store manager said someone, claiming to be from the IRS, called and said the business was short on their taxes and that money needed to be sent immediately to remedy the issue. The store manager, believing he was speaking to someone with the IRS, was told to purchase Green Dot cards with the money from the safe and to provide the numbers on the cards to the caller. More than $1,000 was purchased in Green Dot cards and shared with the scammer.
Please note that the IRS does not:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If you feel like you’ve been a victim of a scam, please report it to your local law enforcement agency.