'IRS' tax scammer unknowingly calls Fayetteville police officer

FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WTVD) -- With less than a month to file taxes without facing a penalty, scammers are busy working to get your refund or steal your identity.

Scammers are calling people, claiming to be with the IRS, and threatening to arrest you.

A Fayetteville police officer got a call on Friday.

"I was hesitant at first of course. Plus there was so much noise in the background and with most call centers they have some kinda soundproofing," said Officer Shawn Strepay.

The scammer claimed Strepay, who already received his tax refund, owed the IRS almost $8,000, and if he didn't pay immediately he would be arrested in the next five days.

Turns out, these types of calls are common. ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson found out that IRS phone scams have jumped to more than 1000 percent this tax season, with most callers demanding wire transfers or gift cards to some foreign account to resolve the debt.

"Most of these calls originate from overseas so its hard to track down for investigators," said Strepay. "So the other important thing to remember is they're able to mask their phone calls with a local number so it may be your local area code."

That was the case for Sergeant Strepay, but the scammers had no clue they had phoned a local police department.

"I said I'll be sitting in my office on Wednesday. If they're coming to get me I'll be waiting for them," said Strepay.

The Fayetteville Police Department is warning residents of this reoccurring scam.

Here are some tips to protect yourself:

1. Never give out your personal information including name, address, social security number, or financial information.

2. Most reputable companies will never ask you to resolve a debt via wire transfer or gift card.

3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is so just hang up.
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