Fake IRS agents steal $11,000

Fairfield police caution that IRS won't contact people by phone

A 26-year-old Fairfield woman was reportedly bilked out of $11,414.63 by a criminal posing as an IRS agent.

According to police reports, the fake agent called the Fairfield woman, said he represented the IRS and that said she owed money to the federal agency and that her car, house and bank accounts would be seized unless she submitted payment immediately. Police said the caller told the woman to withdraw money from her bank and buy Green Dot MoneyPak cards, which the caller can then redeem once he has identification numbers on the cards.

“She was instructed to keep her phone in her pocket and not to provide the teller with any information regarding the withdrawal” from the bank, said Deputy Police Chief Christopher Lyddy.

Police said the woman, who withdrew money several times from the bank, then went to several locations in Fairfield County to buy the Green Dot MoneyPak cards in varying amounts that totaled $8,000 and then gave the caller identification numbers on those card.

According to police reports, the woman then received a phone call from another person who also claimed to be an IRS agent and who said she still owed money to the IRS. Police said she was told to make payment immediately and she bought more Green Dot MoneyPak cards and gave him the identification numbers.

Police said the woman provided the two callers with identification numbers from $11,414.63 worth of Green Dot MoneyPak cards. Lyddy said the woman was so afraid that the IRS would obtain an arrest warrant for her that she complied with the callers’ instructions.

According to Lyddy, all that a criminal needs to obtain cash from a GreenDot MoneyPak card is an identification number from it. A criminal can then go to a store and use that identification number to buy debit cards which he can then use to get cash from an ATM that doesn’t have video surveillance, making it nearly impossible to trace the money.

Police Capt. Josh Zabin said criminals make these kinds of fraudulent phone calls from the Internet and Lyddy said criminals can redirect phone calls to a real phone number before connecting with a potential victim.

“The redirecting of the phone number is illegal,” Lyddy said.

Zabin said scammers often try to use area codes out of Washington, D.C., so the calls seem legitimate.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of fraudulent phone calls of this nature,” Lyddy said. “The IRS will not call you. If you receive a call from an IRS agent, report it to the police immediately. Under no circumstances should you ever provide funds via Green Dot cards or Western Union to anyone you don’t personally know.”

A similar scam cost the owner of the Milk Plus convenience store approximately $1,000.

According to police reports, the owner of the store pays his United Illuminating bill electronically every month. Police said that on Friday, July 17, the owner received a call from someone reportedly representing U.I. who claimed the owner was $1,000 in arrears on his bill. Police said the owner was instructed to purchase two $500 Rite Aid gift cards to pay the balance, which he did.

Fairfield police are investigating both incidents.

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