The notorious IRS scam is still going strong, but now, predators are using another high tech device to fool their victims.
This attack was really vicious. A Silicon Valley tech worker and her sister lost every penny they had saved. It not only cost money, it shook one woman to the core.
Swetali Khapekar was at work when she received a call telling her she was in big trouble.
"You have federal tax difference that needs to be paid and there is a case against you," Khapekar said.
She didn't believe it, so she Googled the 800-number on her caller ID and it really was an IRS phone number.
"He said that it's about $17,000 that you owe," Khapekar said.
The man told her to pay up, or she'd be arrested, immediately. And yet, she still had doubts.
"I said, I need to speak to cops," she said.
Within minutes, she had another call with a 408 area code. A Google search found the number belongs to the Santa Clara Police Department.
"'This is pretty serious. We have been asked bu the IRS to have arrest warrants against you,'" Khapekar said.
She agreed to cooperate. The man stayed on the phone as she drove to the bank, then to Walmart where she wired him $1800, but it wasn't enough.
"They kept saying your file is still under review we are seeing quite a few penalties," she said.
The man told her to wire another $1,900.
"And it didn't just happen for one day it happened for two days," she said.
The next day more demands. Khapekar wired money eight times, totaling $16,000, wiping out her bank account and her sister's.
"The two days, I was so stressed out I couldn't think straight," she said.
Demands kept coming. She couldn't take it anymore. Khapekar drove to the Santa Clara Police Department and turned herself in. She was ready to go to jail. That's how she learned the truth.
"They told me this is an IRS scam and you fell for it,'" she said.
Police told her they never called, neither did the IRS. Scammers had used a cloning device to make those numbers appear on her caller ID.
"The money is gone, no trace for it," she said.
She and her sister had no money for food or rent. Friends started a GoFundMe campaign to help. But she wanted to warn the public about this.
Voice-over-Internet phones can be manipulated to falsify caller ID. It's been used in other scams too, so if you get a suspicious call, don't assume the caller ID is real. Call the agency or company directly. Remember the IRS will never call and threaten to arrest you if you don't pay up.
Click here to help donate to Swetali Khapekar and her sister's financial recovery.
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