According to police spokesman Sgt. Mark Marsh, on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at about 3 p.m., Edmonds police were dispatched to the Safeway store at 23632 Highway 99. Safeway employees became suspicious when a 54-year-old Mountlake Terrace woman came in to purchase $2,400 in prepaid credit cards to pay the IRS for an outstanding tax bill. The victim, who had earlier purchased $3,000 in prepaid credit cards from a different Safeway, had been directed to the Edmonds Safeway by a man who had contacted her by phone regarding an unpaid IRS tax bill. The man told the victim that if she didn’t pay her bill immediately, detectives would come to her house and arrest her.
As officers talked to the woman, the suspect continued to call her, this time using a computer program to display the phone number of the woman’s daughter. “The same caller/suspect now stated that they had the victim’s daughter held hostage and that if the victim didn’t pay the money they would kill her,” Marsh said. Officers quickly determined that the daughter was in no danger and this was just part of the scam. They then confronted the man, who spoke with a heavy accent, over the phone.
“Thanks to the quick thinking of the Safeway store employees and officers on scene, they were able to cancel the previously purchased credit cards the victim had purchased, saving her $3,000,” Marsh said.
It’s unknown how suspect or suspects selected the victim but police said it’s likely that the call came from outside the U.S. and police have no suspect information.
Police remind citizens that the IRS does not try to collect back taxes over the phone and does not use detectives to enforce tax collection actions. Potential victims should also be aware that returning a call regarding this type of collection message could result in very high long distance charges (up to $50 per minute).
If someone receives such a call, hang up and call 9-1-1. If you have any questions for the IRS, call 1-800-829-1040, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov or contact your local IRS office.
Example of IRS scam voice mail message
Publisher’s note: My Neighborhood News writer/photographer Larry Vogel received the following IRS scam voice mail, also converted to text and sent to his email, on Feb. 3. We are providing it to our readers as an example of the type of scam message you may receive. Vogel also forwarded this message to Edmonds police. If you receive any message similar to this one, call 9-1-1.