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Con Artists Continue To Scam Area Residents Out Of Thousands Of Dollars
Updated January 23, 2017 7:04 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - The Indiana State Police at the Bloomington Post are warning Hoosiers of phone scams that have lingered in Indiana and unfortunately have targeted numerous victims age 60 and up.

Some of the latest scams circulating involve individuals calling potential victims claiming to be from Bill Collecting Agencies, Internal Revenue Service, or Law Enforcement entities, including Bail Bond Companies. The caller will explain to the victim that money is owed to any one of these services and that if it isn't paid, they will be arrested.

Lt. Paul Bucher, Commander of the Bloomington Post said "These criminals do their homework. They research your family tree and obtain names and ages of loved ones in your family. They may also skim your family's social media pages to arm themselves with the information they need to sound like they have firsthand knowledge of those closest to you, even to the point of knowing where they are at the time of the scam".

Rest assured that any legitimate company or Government Agency will not be calling to collect money via the phone lines. If you receive a phone call regarding unpaid taxes, fees or other bills, you should always confirm the legitimacy of that claim through other means.

One scam involves a victim receiving a call from what Caller ID indicates is a law enforcement agency. The first person that speaks to the victim will tell them their grandson "Matthew" has been arrested, following a crash that has taken place in the area where "Matthew" may indeed be located. The victim is then placed on a short hold when another person comes on the line identifying themselves as an attorney and explaining "Matthew's" options as to his release. Finally, the scammers may go as far as to put "Matthew" on the line and speak to the victim himself, begging them to send money as soon as they can.

When the victim expresses doubt that their loved one doesn't sound like himself, the scammer quickly explains that he is still shook up from the crash or that he has some type of facial or neck injury that makes him sound different over the phone.

Officials continue to investigate another phone scam involving IRS impersonators who demand immediate payments with pre-paid debit cards and wire transfers. The caller often claims the victim owes thousands of dollars in overdue taxes. According to the IRS, their agency would always make contact with the taxpayer first by mail or with a personal visit.

This scam continues when the impersonator tells the victim he cannot use standard forms of payment, specifically a credit card to pay the taxes. The caller tries to justify why the money has to be wired to a PayPal account or paid using a prepaid debit card. If the caller is unsuccessful talking to the victim the scammer will then threaten the victim with an arrest warrant.

Remember - the IRS doesn't have the authority to issue warrants.

As with most scams, the calls are originating from cell phones or over the internet from all over the country. Tracking down this 21st century con artist is no easy task. As defined by TechTarget, caller ID spoofing is a technology that allows a caller to masquerade as someone else by falsifying the number that appears on the recipient's Caller ID display. Just as email spoofing can make it appear that a message came from any email address the sender chooses, Caller ID Spoofing can make a call appear to come from any phone number the caller wishes, including the Internal Revenue Service.

The Indiana State Police feel that a well informed public with a healthy dose of mistrust is the best defense in combating phone scammers and reminds everyone that these phone scams and cyber crimes are becoming commonplace.

Legitimate companies or Government Agencies will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay a bill without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your "bill", such as a prepaid debit card or PayPal.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS; Call the IRS directly at 800-829-1049 or visit http://www.irs.gov/

If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 or on the web at:
http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml

Lt. Bucher continued, "Because these criminals mostly originate from overseas, they are very difficult to track down, let alone prosecute. In all of these situations, it is up to the potential victim to defy these criminals and insure a crime is never committed, either by confirming the information they are given or by simply hanging up the phone".

The Indiana State Police at the Bloomington Post ask everyone to talk to their family about these phone scams and to have a plan in place should a scammer call you or someone you love. Because phone scams have become nothing short of an epidemic, being aware of potential scams is a great first step in protecting yourself from falling victim to one.



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