2014-03-06 / Front Page

Local officials warn of IRS phone scam, other fraud

By Paula Kay Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pbarbee@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC — It was probably never truer than today in a high-tech society, the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

Thieves are taking advantage of technology, and have unfortunately scammed, or attempted to scam two Grand Blanc residents out of thousands of dollars in recent weeks.

Grand Blanc Township police Captain Ron Wiles, said recently a 50-year-old resident received a call but was smarter than the thieves. They identified themselves as being from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and claimed he owed back taxes.

This is the latest in a scam in which people have been threatened and abused by the alleged IRS officials, including using the names of local officials to make a threat sound more legitimate.

Technologically, anyone with the right knowledge can set their phone identification information to appear to be calling from an official number, and make Caller ID appear as if they were from the IRS.

In a very unlucky case, a 90-year-old resident lost thousands of dollars when a caller claiming to be connected to the Publisher’s Clearing House advised her she had won the $1.5 million prize in their sweepstakes.

They told her she would have to pay taxes on the prize before receiving it however and initially asked her for $2,000. Once they received that, they apparently knew they had a good target and scammed her for an additional $38,000.

There is very little local police can do to go after these scammers, other than make the public aware, Wiles said. In this instance, the case is turned over to federal officials as they have more resources to be able to track this type of crime.

“They have a lot of resources we don’t have,” Wiles said. “Hopefully they can catch these people.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true, he added.

“Do your homework. Call your local IRS office — don’t take the person’s word for it,” he explained. The local office in Flint is at 810-342-6190.

According to Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH), they “will not call you in advance. In fact, if you’re named a BIG PCH winner, you’ll find out when you open your door and see the Prize Patrol standing there holding the traditional “Big Check” with your name on it!”

It’s a bad situation, Wiles said, because people are naturally open and trusting. More information on how to report scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS. gov.

The city police department is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ pages/City-of-Grand-Blanc-Police- Department/761537917208184

The township as well has a Facebook account which is located at: www.facebook.com/gbtpd, and a Twitter account using the handle @GBTPOLICE.

More information from PCH scams is at: http://blog.pch.com/blog/category/publishers clearing-house-scams-2/

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