Sheriff Randy Smith and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Financial Crimes Unit warn residents that criminals are getting much more aggressive and much more creative when it comes to scamming victims.
Over the past few months, St Tammany Parish deputies have received numerous calls from residents reporting that they have received “scam” calls from the “Internal Revenue Service” advising them of delinquent tax debts. During these calls, the scammers identify themselves as an “IRS agent” and tell the resident there is a federal warrant issued for them for tax evasion. They claim the resident will be immediately arrested unless they can make a payment toward the tax bill. The callers then direct the victim to local stores to purchase gift cards or loadable money cards, and/or wire money.
This is an obvious scam, as the IRS does not accept any form of gift cards and will not call you to inform you of a pending arrest warrant. The scammer uses the unexpected call to generate fear in an attempt to extort money from the victim before they realize they are being scammed.
Scams like this are nothing new and have been going on for a couple of years now.
However, last week the scam was taken to another level.
A St. Tammany Parish resident was contacted by someone claiming to be an “IRS agent.” The scammer told the resident that he owed $80,000 in unpaid taxes and threatened that he would be immediately arrested if he did not make a substantial down payment on this fraudulent debt. After realizing this was a scam, the victim’s spouse called the “IRS” number back, demanding the return of the money her husband had paid.
The scammer in turn created an elaborate hoax by calling the police, “spoofing” the husband’s cell phone number and pretending to be him. The caller told 911 operators he was locked in a bedroom and his wife was threating him with a knife. After deputies responded to the emergency call from the residence, the phone call was determined to be a hoax. The scammer was apparently attempting to get the wife out of the residence so he could extort more money from her husband.
The St Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office is alerting all residents, not to send any forms of gift cards, green dot money cards or money transfers, unless you are sure of who you are dealing with and the debt is legitimate. Asking to be provided something in writing is always a good practice to help determine if a debt is legitimate before making a payment.