Scam artists are targeting people in Southern Colorado by robocalling phones and using scare tactics about criminal charges to try and convince people to give them money.
Here’s an example of one of the calls from Friday:
The messages are not a new phenomenon. However, thousands of people have fallen prey to these schemes in the past five years and lost millions of dollars as a result.
Data provide by the Internal Revenue Service show more than 12,000 Americans have been bilked out of $63 million since October of 2013. In Colorado, some 273 victims have lost a combined $1.2 million during that same time period.
"We see scams likes this all year long, but they do tend to peak around this time of the year," said IRS Spokeswoman Karen Connelly. "People are maybe getting ready to file their taxes or maybe recently filed them and perhaps waiting for a refund or some sort of call from us."
She said the IRS does not call people out of the blue and threaten to arrest them. If the IRS needs to contact someone, they will generally send an official notice in the mail.
"It’s going to ask you for some pretty specific things and give you a correspondence number where you call us," Connelly said.
The scammers have also frequently posed as law enforcement officers.
"I had one the other day actually here at the police department where someone was calling me and telling me that if I didn’t come up with X amount of dollars within 24 hours, they were going to be at my place of business and I was going to be arrested," said Lt. Howard Black, the Public Information Officer for the Colorado Springs Police Department.
He said CSPD officers don’t make robocalls, would never call themselves "the local cops," and they certainly don’t ask people for credit card numbers or social security numbers.
"If you have a call, you don’t know who that caller is, it sounds like they’re asking for money that might not be appropriate, just hang up," Black said.
Connelly wants people to report these suspicious phone calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
In 2016, the Department of Justice indicted dozens of people connected to an Indian call center scam that took hundreds of millions of dollars from American victims.