Police Warn Against IRS Scam Season

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Nassau County Third Precinct Problem-Oriented Police (POP) Officers Jessie Cooper and Todd Atkin opened the Village of New Hyde Park public board meeting on Feb. 6 meeting with several advisories regarding some of the most common local crimes being committed in the area.

With tax season here, naturally, one of the hottest issues is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) call scam.

Cooper shared a recent phone scam reported by a local resident. The complainant said she received a phone call from a man claiming to be working on behalf of the IRS. The caller said she had committed fraud on her taxes and would be arrested and have her accounts frozen.

“There’s an intimidation factor,” said Cooper.

The woman hung up, but immediately received another phone call, this time from a woman, claiming to be from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. The caller said there was a warrant out for the woman’s arrest and if she didn’t turn herself in, the sheriffs could come to her job and arrest her.

“If they can’t get you on the first call, they are going to try to call you back, but from a different person, from a different organization, to try to scare you even more,” said Cooper.

The scammer was using a phone number that was masked as coming from the Suffolk County Parks Department. Cooper reported how easy it was for scammers to change the caller ID of the incoming phone call.

Another incident reported was by a woman who was contacted by someone claiming to be from Nassau County in regards to back taxes. The complainant said, in trying to decipher whether this was a legit phone call, that she haphazardly gave too much information of her own existing tax situation, which the caller was able to feed off of and convince her to wire $160,000 through a combination of Green Dot and iTunes gift cards.

“You ask yourself, ‘Why would anyone fall for that’ but I knew a college professor who was scammed out of $78,000,” said Atkin.

The complainant wired the money to a foreign account without hesitation.

“When you’re in that much fear of getting arrested or getting into trouble, all sense of logic disappears,” said Atkin. “You’re just worried about keeping yourself out of trouble.”
It isn’t until you’ve remedied the perceived problem that your sense of logic returns and you realize you have just been scammed.

“These guys are convincing; this is what they do,” said Atkin.

What can you do?

Be vigilant when receiving telephone solicitations or emails from persons identifying themselves as employees of the IRS.

The IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

Other characteristics of this scam may include:

• Scammers using fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
• Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
• Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
• Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
• Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
• After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you believe you may have been a victim of any of these scams, call the Third Precinct at 516-573-6300 (or 911) immediately.

Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible are asked to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 800-244-8477.

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