Mom saves Surgoinsville woman from IRS scam

Jeff Bobo • Aug 24, 2019 at 6:00 PM

SURGOINSVILLE — An 18-year-old Surgoinsville woman was nearly taken in by an IRS arrest scam Wednesday, but her mother stopped her before any money was paid.

Surgoinsville Police Department Chief James Hammonds told the Times News that the scammer’s caller ID number that appeared on the victim’s phone was the same as SPD’s Central Dispatch line.

On Wednesday, a Surgoinsville woman told Hammonds her daughter received a call from a local number from a man who identified himself as an IRS agent.

The man reportedly stated she owed money to the IRS and threatened to have her arrested by local police unless she paid him $1,000 through Visa gift cards.

The victim then went to Kingsport and purchased the gift cards. She was waiting for the scammer to call back so she could give him the numbers when she contacted her mother and explained what was going on.

The mom then called the scammer’s number and discovered it was the SPD’s Central Dispatch number.

“Her mom went into panic mode and got her stopped before she sent in the Visa card numbers,” Hammonds said. “There’s an app you can use to clone an existing number, but we have no idea where this call actually originated from. Most of them originate overseas.

“They were both very upset. The young girl was afraid somebody was coming to get her. They guy said he was with the IRS and she owed money, and he said the police would be coming to get her.”

Hammonds noted that police will never call a person and threaten to arrest them if they don’t pay money.

“Any fines imposed for tickets and/or court judgments are strictly handled by the court and its clerks,” Hammonds added. “Anyone receiving these kind of calls should just hang up and contact the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), which regulates these types of complaints.”

Scam complaints can be made online at fcc.gov or by phone at (888) 225-5322.