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Police Warn of Phone Scammers Posing as IRS Agents

The Callers Threaten Jail Time if Taxes Aren’t Paid


Santa Barbara police issued a warning about telephone scam artists posing as IRS agents threatening jail if fictitious tax bills are not paid off. Police warned that the elderly and immigrants are especially susceptible to such approaches.

Don Williams, long retired from the police department where he once served as public information officer, said he got three such urgent messages left on his answering machine. When Williams called back, he accused the caller of being a scam artists posing as a U.S. Treasury agent; the caller, Williams said, denied the charge and warmed Williams that he was in arrears in his tax payments and that he’d been sent to jail in 45 days if he didn’t pay up.

Williams then suggested the caller learn English — he said the man spoke with what sounded like an Indian accent — and notified him that he would alert the federal authorities. The caller then hung up. William — who managed to glean the caller’s phone number during the exchange — said he spent the next hour alerting the IRS of the scam.

But after spending an hour trying — by phone and internet — Williams gave up after getting bounced from one site to the next, and one extension to another.

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