Authorities warn of on going telephone scams
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.