Riverhead cops warn residents after phone scam

Riverhead police are warning residents to be wary of phone scams after a Flanders woman was reportedly tricked into sending $500 by a scammer. 

Police said the victim had been contacted Tuesday by someone with a “foreign accent.” The person told the woman that he was with the Internal Revenue Service and said she owned the agency more than $6,000 in taxes, according to a news release.

The scammer told the woman she could avoid arrest by sending $1,000 in wire transfers to him, police said. The victim went to 7-11 in Riverhead and wired half the money and then went to Walgreens to wire the other $500, according to the release. An employee at the store warned her that she may be a victim of the scam and that she should save the money and call the police.

Police said they are now investigating the scam.

Authorities warn that there are five tell-tale signs of a phone scams from people pretending to be IRS agents.

• The scammers demand immediate payment. The IRS will always mail a bill first.

• The scammers will say the victim cannot question or appeal the amount they allegedly owe.

• The scammers say victims must use a specific form of payment, like a prepaid debit card or wire service transfer.

• The scammers ask for credit or debit card information over the phone.

• Finally, scammers may threaten arrest for those who don’t pay.

Police say if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, and you think you owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

You may also report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov. Police also advise residents to contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Use the phrase “IRS Telephone Scam” in the comments of the complaint.

Most importantly, the news release warns that residents “do not send money!”

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