The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a potential tax scam following a scam attempt earlier this month.
On Feb. 11, a resident advised receiving a call from 567-256-1860. The male caller was described as having a foreign accent and said the person he was calling owed over $130,000 in back taxes.
The resident asked the caller if it was federal or state taxes. The caller initially said he did not know, then said it was federal income tax.
The caller continued by saying a warrant was out for the resident’s arrest and stated he was a senior criminal investigator. The caller also reportedly stated law enforcement would be coming to the resident’s house to arrest to her in reference to the warrant that had been filed.
A follow-up was conducted by the sheriff’s office. A man with a foreign accent answered the phone. While the male did not ask for a name, he informed officials that a warrant had been issued for their arrest.
The man said he was with a criminal investigation service and would transfer the call to a senior investigator. The phone was switched to the senior investigator, who spoke with a foreign accent and wanted a telephone number. The call was then disconnected.
The sheriff’s office states the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has also warned citizens of this scam.
In a variation of the scam, victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of of a business or driver’s license and in many cases the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
The sheriff’s office wants to remind citizens that the IRS will contact them by mail, not by phone, when they have a tax problem and will not threaten arrest, deportation or loss of a driver’s license, will not demand that residents make payment right away and will not ask residents to wire money, pay with a prepaid money card or ask for credit card information over the phone.
Capt. Dave Rapp stated the sheriff’s office has also received reports in reference to out-of-state vehicle purchasing scams.
An example of this scam is when a resident finds a great deal on a vehicle online. When a seller is contacted for more photos and information, the seller promptly responds rushing the resident to buy the vehicle right then.
The sheriff’s office asks that residents do their homework and research before wiring money or giving the seller on the other end of a call credit card and account numbers.
“The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office is warning citizens to be especially cautious during this tax season when using the Internet to purchase large items such as vehicles,” Rapp stated. “If you believe that you have been scammed please report it to your local law enforcement agency.”