City of Ukiah, California

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PLEASE – HANG UP!

During the first few weeks of February, several local business owners called to tell me they received threatening calls from scammers posing as IRS investigators. I have written about this scam before, but the information is worth repeating since these scammers are trying to steal money from people and businesses in our area again.

What you need to know is that these callers are NOT from the IRS—they are crooks after your money! They do a little research to learn a few personal details about you so they sound legitimate, but they aren’t. To get your money, they will threaten to press formal charges, to arrest you, or to suspend your driver’s license if you don’t give them what they want.

This is an old scam, but the scammers don’t seem to tire of it. They are calling again now because it is tax season and they believe people are vulnerable. If anyone calls and says they are from the IRS (or any other organization that threatens you), please – HANG UP!

These phone scams include many variations. Sometimes these crooks pretend to be IRS representatives saying the victims owe money. Other times the scammers say the victims are entitled to a huge refund. In either case, the scammers are after your money. Sometimes these calls are paired with follow-up calls from scammers pretending they are from the local police department or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

In the past these crooks have used sophisticated deception techniques to target recent immigrants and the elderly. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and must pay promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Characteristics of these scams can include:

  • Scammers using fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.

  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.

  • Scammers “spoof” or imitate the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.

  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to victims to support their bogus calls.

  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do: if you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue—if such an issue actually exists.

If you know you don’t owe taxes, or if you have no reason to believe you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

If you’ve been targeted by these scams, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

Finally, I think our best tool in deterring and preventing crimes is our instincts. If you think something is wrong, it probably is. Please call and check before acting.

On our website we’ve posted links to English and Spanish language public service announcements about these scams. Go to www.ukiahpolice.com/community-support/scam-and-fraud-information for this information and other resources to help you.  

As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications, by clicking the Nixle button on our website www.ukiahpolice.com. 

By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police


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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service