“When I got home yesterday I had one on my home phone,” says Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher. “And then today I also had one on my cell phone.”
He’s referring to a call from a scammer claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. The Better Business Bureau warns the Savannah area is being “heavily” targeted and apparently not even the sheriff is safe. He said the called appear to be foreign. and told him he “owed nearly $9,000 in back taxes.”
The sheriff knows these calls can be intimidating to a lay person so he has this advice.
“I just want the people in this county and surrounding counties to know these are all scams,” said Wilcher. “Nobody from the federal government or local law enforcement is gong to call you and tell you you owe money or anything else or that you are in contempt of court,:
Later, the sheriff couldn’t help but turn the tables on the crooks. He called back the number on his cell phone and a man with foreign sounding accent immediately answered.
“I believe you know about the allegations and the lawsuit filed against you for the overdue taxes,” the man said. “You owe the IRS the amount of $8,900.”
The man asks Wilcher is he can “go to the bank to get the money” and then tells the sheriff “to stay on the phone.”
Later the man tells the sheriff he needs to act immediately or be arrsted. But the scammer couldn’t know he was talking to Chatham County’s top law enforcement officer.
Wilcher tells him he won’t pay. “Do you want to get arrested?” you hear the man ask.
Wilcher replies, “Sure, tell them to come and get me.”
The man says “all right, no problem. We will be sending the county sheriff right now.”
Then Wilcher says, “okay, when they get here, tell them to ask for Sheriff John T. Wilcher, because I am the sheriff of this county. And tell them they an use my private door to come into my jail, too.”
The phone call is immediately disconnected
Several people in the sheriff’s office including Wilcher had to laugh at the thought of what the man on the other end of the phone was thinking when he heard he was talking to a county sheriff.
But the BBB warns not everyone is laughing. It says some people are falling for this, and that a woman in Florida recently paid over $50,000 to someone she believed was calling from the IRS.
The BBB says
1) Don’t give out personal information to any caller
2) Refuse to give a credit or debit card number
3) If you are asked to get a prepaid card like a GreenDot card of an iTunes card, it’s definitely a scam
4) Monitor calls. If you don’t recognize someone’s number, don’t answer.