Scams run rabid as tax time nears

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It may be tax time for a lot of people, but for others, it’s scam time.

Greenville Police Lt. Justin Lovvorn said there are three scams affecting area residents right now, and all need to be on alert.

One scam involves the schemers calling residents saying they are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or from the United States Treasury, saying their taxes weren’t properly filed over the course of two years and they need to collect some payments.

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“Bottom line on those kind of deals, the first action that the IRS or treasury would take wouldn’t be a phone call,” Lovvorn said. “They’ll always send a certified letter with a website to go to to get things certified or give you documentation of what the problem is.”

Lovvorn said government offices won’t call and demand money, “no matter how official they sound.”

In the last couple of weeks, Lovvorn said there have been callers calling people saying that they represent some organizations, lobbies or publishing clearing houses letting them know that they’ve won something.

“It could be money, a vehicle or merchandise,” he said. “Then they’ll tell you to get a cash year’s check or money order and sent it to them.”

Lovvorn said once the check is sent, the callers guarantee the prize will be at caller’s door the next day.

“This is another red flag,” he said. “Anybody calling your out of the blue telling you you won something like that, from no legitimate organization. That should immediately tell you that this is a scam.”

The last scheme involves residents receiving checks in the mail and keeping a big portion of the cash after sending 10 percent to the sender.

“We’ve had people in the past do that,” Lovvorn said. “The problem for these checks is forgery. It takes 10 days to process.

“The bottom line is that the person who cashs the check is responsible for the check and penalties that come with cashing the check. If you don’t want to get yourself in a bind, do not cash checks you receive in the mail that you aren’t familiar with or know where they’re from,” he said. “You will end up in a bind for the full amount and then some and more.”

To ward against being a victim of the phone scams, Lovvorn said to ask those calling in a lot of questions.

“Say how do you have my info, or what contest is this I entered,” he said. “Eventually, you just have to hang up on them or they’ll hang up on you.”

But the most important thing to do is notifying the local authorities in the area.

This is key because if there isn’t any action that can be done, the authorities report the scam to the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Montgomery, Lovvorn said. “They have a task force that works on this problem,” he said. “The majority of these are from overseas any how. Eventually, law enforcement come in and let them know they’re not going to do this, and shut them down.”

Contact the GPD at 334-382-7461 or the Butler County Sheriff’s Office at 334-382-6521.