Taxpayers beware: tax season affords scammers more opportunities to attempt to pilfer hard-earned money.
“We see a few more scams this time of year,” Sheriff Robert Craft said. “There’s more cash out there. It’s on everybody’s mind, and scams work a little better this time of year.”
Scams happen through the entire year. Craft gave an example of a local who had lost money to scammers.
“One person lost over $5,000 when they were told they had won a new car,” Craft said. “First they had to pay an ‘import tax’ then ‘duty fees,’ and the person ended up owing more and more. When a scammer finds something that works they keep coming back to it.”
He said the sheriff’s department recently received more than a dozen reports of Internal Revenue Service telephone scams from concerned citizens.
“Callers claim to be IRS officials and demand immediate payment for alleged delinquent taxes,” Craft said. “They try to frighten the money out of you.
Marion resident Nicki Case had a curious interaction with a suspicious caller Thursday.
“I asked him why the IRS is calling me, especially since it is all over the news that it is a scam,” Case said. “He told me to wait 45 minutes and I would be arrested.”
County residents Rhonda Hett, Eileen Sieger, and Hazel Hoffner said they have received similar calls recently.
Craft said scam calls typically generate overseas and are rerouted through multiple computers that end up showing up as a valid phone number.
Case said caller ID identified the number, (202) 969-3549, as coming from Washington, District of Columbia. Another scam number that has been showing up in the area is (202) 684-3477.
Kansas Department of Revenue issued a press release about scammers like the one that threatened Case. The release said some calls also show up as a valid Department of Revenue number, (785) 296-0671, which connects to the department’s public information officer.
The release said people also were told that they failed to file “Form 61,” which does not exist for the state of Kansas.
Craft said the IRS generally contacts anyone with delinquent taxes by mail.
“I strongly encourage anyone who receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and demanding money to immediately hang up,” Craft said. “[The IRS] will never ask for a credit card number over the phone.”
Craft advises county residents not to send any information or money to anyone demanding or requesting money to be sent via Western Union or a prepaid credit or debit card.
Scams also manifest in the form of texts and emails offering unexpected financial gain.
Other scams involve lottery winnings, debt relief, or inheritance from an unknown family member or friend, which encourage prospective victims to send money.
The IRS has a list of this year’s “Dirty Dozen” scams on their website that includes phone scams, fake email or website phishing, return preparer fraud, offshore tax avoidance, inflated refund claims, fake charities, falsely padded deductions on returns, excessive claims for business credits, falsifying income to claim credits, abusive tax shelters, and frivolous tax arguments.
Craft advised residents to get a second opinion from a trusted source should they receive any notification that says they are the winner of a contest or prize they never entered or have heard about.
If taxpayers receive a suspicious call, and are unsure if it is fraudulent or not, they should call the department of tax customer service line at (785) 368-8222 or contact local law enforcement officials.