Author­i­ties warn of on go­ing tele­phone scams

Record Observer - - News - By JACK SHAUM jshaum@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — “The IRS doesn’t op­er­ate this way,” said Queen Anne’s County State’s At­tor­ney Lance Richard­son, re­fer­ring to tele­phone scams that he calls an “on­go­ing prob­lem” in the re­gion.

Sher­iff R.G. Hofmann III, in a post­ing on his of­fice’s web­site, makes a sim­i­lar state­ment that “util­ity com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment agen­cies will not con­tact you by phone de­mand­ing im­me­di­ate pay­ment by MoneyPak.”

The calls that some peo­ple in the county are get­ting be­gin with the caller say­ing that he is from ei­ther the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice or the Trea­sury De­part­ment and de­mand­ing out­stand­ing payments or a war­rant would be is­sued for their ar­rest. Richard­son has even got­ten them on his per­sonal phone.

“They are rude and bel­liger­ent and they al­ways def­i­nitely have a for­eign ac­cent,” Richard­son said. “Peo­ple need to know that these robo calls sound le­git­i­mate and are try­ing to por­tray them­selves as le­git­i­mate,” but are not.

Any­one re­ceiv­ing such calls should con­tact his of­fice at 410-758-2264, the Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice at 410-758-0770, or the Mary­land State Po­lice at 410-758-1101.

“These are per­sis­tent guys,” who in some in­stances leave recorded mes­sages telling the per­son to call such-and-such a num­ber, he said. “I be­lieve they set up and shut down and it’s dif­fi­cult to track them.”

In one in­stance, the same kind of call came in to a county res­i­dence twice within a few hours of each other, and the caller’s num­ber was different each time, and not from the 410 or 443 area code.

As re­cently as June 14, the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice heard from a res­i­dent who said he got a call from some­one who said his name was James and that he was with the Trea­sury De­part­ment. The caller de­manded an out­stand­ing pay­ment or a war­rant would be is­sued for the cit­i­zen’s ar­rest, ac­cord­ing to the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

Richard­son said any­one re­ceiv­ing such calls should never give out any fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion and should con­tact the author­i­ties, as did the res­i­dent on June 14.

Many of the scam calls are made to se­nior cit­i­zens and the sher­iff’s of­fice be­lieves that’s be­cause they “may have a nest egg to spend or in­vest, might be lonely and more will­ing to talk to strangers, less likely to re­port fraud than other age groups [and] may ap­pear weaker than younger mem­bers of so­ci­ety,” ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff’s web site at http://www.queenan­nessh­er­iff.org/me­dia/ news­let­ters/

The sher­iff’s of­fice has not re­ceived any calls about scams re­cently, said spokesman Dale Pa­trick, but al­ways has in­for­ma­tion on its web site to let the pub­lic know that such scams are out there. It lists 10 top scams that have ei­ther been re­ported in the county or are known to be in ex­is­tence. They in­clude a scam in­volv­ing grand­par­ents, in­vest­ment schemes, email scams, sweep­stakes and lot­tery scams, and medi­care card and med­i­caid card ID theft scams, among oth­ers.

The bot­tom line is that al­though the calls may sound le­git­i­mate, any­one re­ceiv­ing them should not give out any in­for­ma­tion, and should hang up and con­tact author­i­ties as soon as pos­si­ble.

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