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Phone scammers pretending to be IRS are now targeting central New York

Michael Hilton
via Flickr

A national scam to trick people into thinking they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service and forking over payment has reached central New York.

Utica Police call this phone scam aggressive. The scammers are calling numbers in the 315 area code and claiming to be from the federal tax collection agency. They then demand money orders or some other quick payment form to settle a debt with the IRS. Don’t pay up, and the police will be after you, the threat goes. 

"What they do is, they demand that the person send them money, generally in the form of a money order, or a prepaid card; something that can’t be traced," said Lt. Steve Hauck, 

The scam is a numbers game in more ways than one, Hauck said. Call enough people in a short period of time and cash in on a few unsuspecting victims.

"A good clue for people is, if the person speaks very poor English," he said. "And the IRS is not going to call you out of the blue and demand you send them money."

The scammers are able to use technology to mask the number they’re calling from.

"They’re able to change the identifier, on their caller ID on their end, to make it look like it’s coming from a local number, when in reality, it’s probably coming from overseas," he said.

The targeting elderly people and recent immigrants. The callers use fake names and ID numbers to sound more convincing.

Hauck says they were alerted of the scam because a number of people called them to report it. Phone scams like this are hard to trace and prosecute, so he says they’re trying to be preventative. He says their biggest concern is the scams that go unreported.