ROCHESTER, Wash — Earlier this month, a Rochester woman was scammed out of almost $10,000 by someone pretending to be an IRS agent over the phone.
The scammers knew Wendy Weaver's social security number and told her it was involved in a fraud case.
When she questioned the person on the phone, they said they would transfer her to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, where a person pretending to be a deputy picked up the phone.
Over the next several hours, the fake deputy convinced her to send him thousands of dollars in gift cards from several different stores in Olympia. The "deputy" told Weaver that the money would be safe with the department.
“So in my mind the guy gave me a badge number, the Thurston County Sheriff’s office by name I felt like ‘Okay, this is legit,’” Weaver said.
“As soon as the phone call ended, I just snapped back into reality and realized ‘Oh my God, I just got scammed,'” she said.
The Thurston County Sheriff's Office said they have seen this before.
“We’ve seen them using actually client names to having them use our chief’s name before and calling people,” said Lt. Ray Brady, a detective for the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.
Brady, handling Weaver's case, said scammers are getting more sophisticated in using real names and local phone numbers.
“They’re looking for people to prey on and they may make a thousand phone calls before they get the person that’s going to go through and send them a bunch of money,” Brady said.
“One of which was my son’s savings account, because I was thinking I need to save all of our money,” she said.
Though investigators may never catch the person who drained her family’s savings, she just wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Since Weaver withdrew the money herself and paid for the gift cards in cash, investigators said she may have no claim to have the charges reversed.
There is an open investigation, but experts say these cases are rarely solved.
“I don’t want anybody to go through the fear and the panic and the loss obviously that we went through,” said Weaver.
- Taxpayers will generally receive notice in the mail not a phone call if there was an issue with the IRS.
- The IRS would never demand that people use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS will not ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone.
- The IRS would never threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement agencies to arrest people for not paying.
- The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss tax debts or refunds with taxpayers.