An Edgewood man avoided falling victim to a scam Tuesday, when he walked into the town office while on the phone with the scammer.
Rebecca Sanchez, a secretary in the town office, said the man had gotten a phone call from somebody saying they were from the IRS. “He was told not to have anybody around him, not to notify any police, because he does have a warrant for his arrest and would be picked up. He was to go to a bank, I heard them refer to Wells Fargo in Edgewood, and ask this lady [on the phone with him] for the account number.”
The man was so shaken up he had a medical episode in the parking lot, handing his phone off to a Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputy, Sanchez said.
She said the deputy had the call on speakerphone. “You hear the lady saying, ‘You’re not the sheriff.’ She hung up on him, then calls back to the cell phone. She told him again, ‘You are not the sheriff.’”
After hanging up on the deputy twice, Sanchez said a third call was made to the cell phone, this time by a man who said he was from the “Edgewood Sheriff’s Department.”
Sanchez said the man was the fourth person in about two months to come into the town offices with a similar complaint about someone who claims to be from the IRS. “The scam artists are very persistent,” she said, “they keep calling. I’ve been in that office hearing about this for the past two months. … Same scam: You need to go to the bank. People telling me they are afraid to go home—because [the scammers] are telling them there will be police waiting for them because they have a warrant for their arrest.”
Sanchez said she lives in Estancia, and neither she nor her parents have heard of similar calls there.
Edgewood Mayor John Bassett said he has gotten several such calls on the town cell phone he uses. “It happens all the time. I get calls on this city phone here, with the same threats, that I owe a bunch of money to the IRS and a lien’s going to be put on my property.”
The Attorney General’s office regularly issues alerts about IRS phone scams, and offered the following red flags:
The “IRS” calls to inform you of an outstanding debt; “IRS” calls and threatens those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation, or loss of a business or driver’s license; “IRS” calls and says you must immediately pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer; “IRS” calls and asks for a credit card number over the phone to pay an outstanding debt.”
According to the AG’s advice, the IRS does not call taxpayers and use scare tactics or threatening language; the IRS does not call and demand payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer; the IRS does not ask for a credit card number over the phone; the IRS does not request personal or financial information by email, texting, or any social media.
Those getting such calls are advised to report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General at 800-366-4484 or visit treasury.gov/tigta or ftc.gov. Add “IRS telephone scam” to your complaint.
Scam emails from the “IRS” should be forwarded to email@example.com, the AG advises.
To find out if you owe federal taxes, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.