On March 20, a local resident notified our office of a telephone-based scam. The caller claimed to represent the Internal Revenue Service. The telephone number used in this call was from area code 209, which is assigned to Compton, California.
The caller told the resident that a review of his income tax filing showed where he was shorted on his refund and if the resident would provide his bank account number, a deposit of the tax refund would follow, in this case, an additional $525.
The resident was suspicious and asked the caller where he was located. The answer given in this case was Clear Lake, S.D. The fake IRS representative encouraged the resident to provide the account information because the situation was only open for 15 minutes. The fake IRS staffer claimed he was only minutes away and even tried to assure the caller of his legitimacy by detailing facts about our community, facts which are readily available with simple research.
In my investigation I found the number used was a “Magic Jack” subscriber number, and because Magic Jack is an Internet-based form of communications, it could originate from anywhere an Internet connection could be made.
I signed up for a trial Magic Jack number and within minutes obtained one. My number was based out of Lehigh Acres, Florida, which has an area code of 239. I was able to make several telephone calls to a variety of associates and in all cases the call connected and the caller ID indicated I was calling from a Florida telephone.
The bottom line is that you should never give out your financial information, including bank, credit card, social security or insurance account data. Caller ID is a great tool but there are tools that allow scammers to present fake Caller ID information or use telephone numbers from an entirely different location.
Calls of this nature occur with regularity and frankly the majority of them go on without intervention or consequence because the scammers are clever, normally operate from outside the state and resources are not present to effectively pursue the offenders. That is why the best defense is a good offense, and being wise about such scams is the best tool available to people.
The best rule is that “…if you have any doubt, check it out” and “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.”
Concerns about such calls can be directed to your local law enforcement agency or to the Office of the Attorney General.