Woman loses nearly $20,000 to ‘IRS scam’
Within 24 hours, a Lee County woman found herself out of $19,500 after being duped by con-artists in the on-going IRS scam that continues to plague Southwest Florida, as well as the nation. The woman contacted the Sheriff’s Office fraud line Wednesday morning to report the devastating financial loss that will most likely end with little to no chance for monetary recovery.
On Monday morning, the victim received a voice message on her home phone from someone claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service. When she returned the message, the scammer told her she owed $5,450 in back taxes from 2010-2014, and if she didn’t pay in 20 minutes, she would be arrested. She was instructed to go to a local grocery store and purchase multiple reloadable prepaid cards, which she did. After complying with the scammer, the victim received a second phone call stating she had issues with her 2008-2010 tax returns, and would need to pay another $14,500 via wire transfer to avoid arrest. “
This time, the victim had to use her retirement savings in order to pay the heartless fraudster,” a release from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office states.
In addition, she was asked to take a picture of her driver’s license and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to federal authorities, the IRS impersonation scam has swindled victims out of more than $15 million since it began in 2013.
“The Lee County Sheriff’s Office strongly encourages you NOT to respond to any call demanding immediate payment of back taxes, but instead urges you to call the IRS at 800-829-1040 so a legitimate IRS employee can help determine whether or not you have tax issues,” officials said.
If you have received an IRS imposter phone call and would like to report it to law enforcement; or if you have sent money to a scammer, contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at 258-3292. You can also report the incident to the TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) at 800-366-4484, or file an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
– Lee County Sheriff’s Office