Powhatan man warns of elaborate IRS phone scam

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — A CBS 6 News viewer and the Better Business Bureau are sounding the alarm about a sophisticated phone scam targeting people in Central Virginia.

The Better Business Bureau’s Tom Gallagher said the scam starts when a caller pretending to be an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent tells the person he or she owes money that must be paid immediately.

The caller then pressures the victim to wire money from either a Walmart, CVS or Walgreens. If the victim does not comply, the criminal threatens to have the victim arrested.

Gallagher said that criminals are even honing in on immigrants by threatening deportation if the person doesn’t allow the caller to complete an automatic draft from their bank account. At least one person has lost $850 that way, according to Gallagher.

Tom Bishop, who lives in Powhatan, told CBS 6 News someone posing as an IRS agent called his home Thursday morning. Bishop said the caller pressured — and threatened him — to wire money.

“They said they would come and get me within two hours if I didn’t give them $2500. They also said they would send the sheriff to get me and even put a lien on my driver’s license,” Bishop explained.

Gallagher said the BBB has received repeated calls from people saying they were contacted by these fake IRS agents. Then, the BBB got word from the IRS that the phone scam was ramping up in our area.

Gallagher said that government agency simply doesn’t work that way.

“If the IRS needs to get money from you, they will contact you. Remember, just don’t believe that someone can force you to give them that money. They can’t,”  Gallagher explained. “You have rights and you don’t have to give anybody anything you don’t want to give them.”

Bishop said he and his wife decided to call the IRS and found out it was a scam. They also alerted the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office. Bishop said he is speaking out because he doesn’t want anyone to fall for the scam.

Gallagher advises anyone who receives this type of call to not give out any money or any personal info. Simply hang up and report the incident to the Better Business Bureau at 804- 648-0016.

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