COPPERAS COVE —The city’s police department is urging residents to be on guard against becoming victims to the latest telephone scams.
In a news release Friday, police listed telephone scams to watch out for, including an IRS scam, a senior citizen company scam and a grandparent or parent scam.
To avoid being scammed, never give out any personal identifying information such as bank account or credit card numbers to anyone who calls.
As in all scams, con artists will lie, cheat, steal, and make up plausible stories to convince you to wire money or divulge sensitive information. The callers are often professional criminals who are skillfully able to get you to wire money or give personal information before you have time to properly assess the situation, police said.
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers has been making the rounds throughout the Central Texas area.
Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS, and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, the victim is then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.
In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.
Senior Citizen Company Scam
Callers have identified themselves as being part of Senior Citizen Company (no such thing) and the target has won a new Mercedes-Benz and $850,000.
They ask for the target to pay transport fees for the vehicle.
When asked where they got the target’s information, they were told Walmart.
The local Walmart contacted by a person targeted in the scam denied releasing any information to a third party.
Grandparent or Parent Scam
Grandparents or parents receive frantic calls from someone they believe to be their family member.
The supposed family member sounds distressed and may be calling from a noisy location.
The supposed family member claims to be involved in some type of trouble, such as being arrested or in a car accident or needing emergency car repairs, while traveling in Canada or overseas and asks the grandparent or parent to immediately wire money to post bail or pay for medical treatment or car repairs.
The scammer typically asks for several thousand dollars, and may even call back again several hours or days later asking for more money. He or she may claim embarrassment about the alleged trouble and ask the grandparent or parent to keep it a secret.
A variation of the scam may involve two scammers. The first scammer calls and poses as a family member under arrest.
The second scammer, posing as some type of law enforcement officer, then gets on the phone with the grandparent or parent and claims certain fines need to be paid.
Alternatively, the scammer may pretend to be a family friend or neighbor.
A common theme of the scam across the nation is the caller’s request for the family to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram or to provide bank account routing numbers. Wiring money is like sending cash; there are no protections for the sender.
Typically, there is no way you can reverse the transaction, trace the money, or recover payment from the telephone con artists.