A popular scam is reaching many of our viewers right now.
It's tax time, and the last thing you want to hear is the I-R-S is suing you or threatening to arrest you. But that's exactly the message being left on many phones...including "my work phone" here at WKYT.
some people are falling for the scam, and losing hundreds of dollars.
It happened to Christi Tackett of Montgomery County. Here's part of the message left on her cell phone.
The phone message says, "Under your name, there are some serious charges have been pressed against you, so before anything goes wrong, or before we track down your case file to your local police department in order to get arrested on these charges, I want you to call us back as soon as possible..."
Tackett called the number back, listed on the phone as coming from Homestead, Florida.
She called the experience, "Very intimidating. Freaking me out intimidating. They told me I couldn't hang up the phone. I had to do this right now. If not, it would go to court. And I'd owe more than 500, it's be more like 25-thousand."
So she says, she went to Kroger, still on the phone with the man, who told her to get five, one-hundred dollar I-Tune gift cards, and read him the numbers off the back of each card.
Tackett says, "and I did that. And then he's like, I'm going to put you on hold so I can talk to my supervisor. And then he came back on the phone, and he said there's more charges, you owe 450 more, so I need you to go back in, and get some more ITune gift cards. And that's when I was like, this is crazy, and hung up on him."
I asked her, "what were you thinking at that point?"
Tackett says, "I was like, I just got scammed."
She's not the only one receiving calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Recently, this message was left on my work phone.
My phone message says, " there is a lawsuit filed against you by the Internal Revenue Service, and there is a non bail arrest warrant issued under your name...so before we move forward with the lawsuit and illegal allegation, contact us as soon as possible."
Heather Clary of the Better Business Bureau says, "It's the heart in the throat moment, and that's what the con artists are going for...the shock value."
Clary says the con artists want you to pay over the phone with a pre-paid card that you can reload...like an ITune Card.
She says, " Some people have questioned why a ITunes Card. You can't cancel it. And of course, that is also untraceable. Once you read those numbers off the back of it to the con artists, they empty the account."
We called the number left on my phone, listed as coming from Arcadia, California ....(natural sound of disconnected). It had been disconnected. Clary says con artists use special equipment to spoof the phone number, meaning the number shows up on your message as coming from the United States, but in fact, it's probably from another country.
Clary says, if you get a message that claims to be from the IRS, do not return the call. Clary says the IRS claims on their website.
"We only contact you by postal mail. We do not call you on the phone. We do not email you. We certainly do not request or demand payment by a specific method."
Tackett learned a tough lesson for five-hundred dollars.
"I don't see how anyone can do that, and sleep at night. I feel horrible. I had the money, but I didn't want to spend it that way."
I asked her, "Like being robbed?"
Tackettt says, "Kinda, yea. Pretty much."
clary says last year, the number one reported scam to the B-B-B, was impersonating the IRS by phone. Again, remember, the I-R-S does not call you, or email you, or threaten you with a lawsuit or arrest, or tell you to pay over the phone. Do not return the calls of these scammers.