Police Warn of IRS and FPL Scams: "It's Open Season"

Police Warn of IRS and FPL Scams: "It's Open Season"
courtesy Coral Springs police

Coral Springs police today warned that residents are reporting of a phone/email scam in which con artists pretend to be representatives from the Internal Revenue Service and threaten to arrest the victim unless monies are paid. 

The police department announced via Facebook: "Over the past few days, there are have reports of many residents (and even some employees receiving) calls from the IRS stating they owe money and will be arrested if they do not pay. We have two residents who contacted us via private message with the attached letter sent via email. [See image above.] This too is a scam. Some tell tale signs of a scam can be basic grammar (this letter is a good example). We say, when in doubt do not provide anyone with your information (SS#, DOB, etc.)." In the comments, numerous people reported receiving similar calls this week. 

The department's public information officer did not immediately return a call for comment. 

Delray Beach police have seen similar complaints, particularly targeting the elderly. Dani Moschella told New Times that over the past few months, it has seemed to be "open season" on everyone's grandparents. She wanted people to know: " If anybody calls or texts you [saying that you owe back taxes], it's not the IRS. You're not going to go to jail. No one is coming to pick you up."  She said that in many cases, the scam goes unreported because people are embarrassed to have fallen for it. 

Another scam Delray police have seen involves emails purportedly sent from Florida Power and Light to small businesses, alleging that an electric bill is overdue.  They'll say "give us a Money Gram or electricity will be cut off by the weekend,"  Moschella says.  This scam is effective, she says, because demands are usually for a few hundred dollars. it seems plausible to small business owners that they could have missed a payment, and they scramble to pay so as not to have their business interrupted. 

Moschella said that criminals can be difficult to catch because they are operating from outside the country. 

FPL describes multiple types of scams on its website, and says that customers compare their account numbers to any emails received: 

If you receive an email bill from an electric utility other than FPL, like PG&E, it’s likely a scam. Do not open or click the email. Delete it immediately. If you receive an FPL email bill that looks different from your normal bill or seems suspicious in any way, do not click any links. Look at the account number to verify that it is your actual account number. You can find your account number by looking at an old bill or by logging in to your account on FPL.com. If the account numbers match, then the email is a legitimate email from FPL. If they do not, delete the email immediately.

The IRS said scams involving the agency are being seen all over the country. The IRS has published suggestions on how to recognize and avoid them: 

The IRS reminds people that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:
Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill..

Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.

You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Remember, too, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

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