Sheriff’s Office warns of phone and text scams
by Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
October 7, 2016
ROCK SPRINGS, WY - The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is issuing an upgraded warning about two ongoing scams circulating in the county.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Scam
The first involves telephone calls from people claiming to be agents of the Internal Revenue Service, demanding payment of (allegedly) delinquent income taxes.
The pattern is for the caller to insist on prompt payment through a credit or debit card or a wire transfer. If the person called refuses or begins asking questions, the caller often threatens a visit from law enforcement, arrest, arrest of a spouse, or a driver’s license revocation.
The callers use fake names and sometimes even provide a bogus IRS badge number. They may even know the last four digits of their intended victim’s Social Security number, all in an effort to make the swindle sound more convincing.
Genuine communications from the IRS begin with a letter, not a phone call. Other tipoffs that such calls are a scam include the following:
Knowledge of the intended victim’s Social Security number or its last four digits.
Recitation of the bogus IRS agent’s badge number.
During the call, the sound of other, similar conversations can be heard in the background.
The caller becomes rude and hostile and hangs up.
Follow-up calls from a different person claiming to be an IRS agent.
Authorities make the following recommendations to those who receive such calls: If you actually owe on your federal income taxes or think you might owe, contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to speak with a genuine official about your tax issues.
If you know you don’t owe any income taxes, call 1-800-366-4484 to report the caller to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The second scam strategy concerns fake lottery winnings.
"It’s the latest variation of an old theme," said Detective Dick Blust, the Sheriff’s Office public information officer. "In this version, people receive a cell phone text informing them that they have won a large sum, such as $100,000, in the lottery, but need to send money - in this latest con, $9,000 - to an address in Texas to cover bogus "taxes" or "processing costs" before their winnings can be claimed."
The Sheriff’s Office provided the following tips for detecting a lottery scam:
You can’t win a genuine lottery if you haven’t entered it; in virtually all cases, you must have first purchased a ticket to enter.
If you are holding a winning lottery ticket, it is you who must notify lottery officials - they don’t contact you.
You never have to pay to collect winnings from a legitimate lottery. When people actually do win genuine lottery prizes, taxes are paid after they receive their winnings, not before.
Blust said lottery scammers also use this strategy to obtain bank account and credit card numbers or other private information. He said he recommends without exception that extreme caution should be exercised when communications of this sort are received. "As always, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is."