East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff warns of IRS scheme

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office reports 65 percent of people who are contacted by alleged schemers over the telephone fall prey. The most recent scheme involves a call from someone claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

One woman, Dianne Daquano, said she came home to find two messages on her answering machine. Both callers left a return telephone number with a Washington D.C. area code. Both messages were from a man with an accent who claimed he was a federal tax auditor. He left a message stating her husband's full name and said he was being named in a lawsuit for tax evasion. The caller instructed her to call him back immediately to pay a fine of $2,500 or face prison time.

"I called my son and said, something's going on here," Daquano said.

Dianne's son, too, got a call. It was from a New York area code. The caller was also looking for her husband. The voicemail message instructed him to return the call to pay a fine to avoid being charged with bank fraud.

Daquano said while it was a bit scary, she knew right away the calls were not legitimate.

"We pay our taxes always, always have, and we pay a lot of taxes. So we know we don't owe any money," Daquano said.

We shared the phone messages with East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office Financial Crimes Commander, Tommy Rice.

"I actually got that call myself on my home phone," Rice said.

Rice said, often times, the culprits access the names and telephone numbers from computers used to make credit card transactions at retail stores and restaurants.

"They hack the point of sale terminal not monitored for software protection as often as it should be and put on black market on internet and people use it," Rice said.

Computer Forensics Specialist, Sergeant Brian Blanch, tracks the bogus numbers through his desktop.

He called the two phone numbers on Daquano and her son's phones. One ran continuously. The other answered with music. Blanch said citizens should never return the calls.

"One of the scams is they give you another number to call back. When you call the number back it charges your telephone $39.99 without you knowing," Sgt. Blanch said.

Blanch said because the majority of the alleged schemers live in another country, often times, their identities and locations are nearly impossible to trace.

Commander Rice said IRS, and most government agencies, will never contact you over the telephone.

Those agencies typically do business by mail.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.