Scammers posing as IRS target local district attorney

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Scammers pretending to be IRS agents are hitting our area and hitting it hard. In fact, they’re so brazen they recently targeted a well-known district attorney.

“There is a huge scam going on right now in the Triad, where people are receiving calls from overseas,” said Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, who received one of the scam calls last week.

The number which called O’Neill appeared to have come from New York, but it didn’t. In the voicemail left on his phone, the caller identified himself as “Officer Eric Foster.” O’Neill was directed to call back immediately. The number provided by the scammer was (845) 302-8487.

The scammer finished the voicemail by saying, “If you don’t return the call and if I don’t hear from your attorney either, then the only thing I can do for you is wish you a good luck.”

Instead of calling back himself, O’Neill passed along the phone number to the State Bureau of Investigation. An agent called the number and had a conversation with the scammer, which ended with threats directed toward the agent.

“Indicating they were going to come and kill their whole family and blow up their house, and obviously that’s not the way an IRS agent would handle a situation,” O’Neill said.

Multiple people have fallen for the scam in our area, including an elderly couple who lost over $50,000 dollars; their entire life savings.

“It leaves some of these elderly people destitute and with no money,” O’Neill said.

The IRS tells FOX8 the only time they’ll ever call you is if you’ve previously met with them in person and you’re the one who provided them with your phone number. Otherwise, they’ll be sending you certified pieces of mail. They added that they will send you multiple pieces of mail before you get in serious trouble.

“They’re trying to put the fear of God in people,” O’Neill said, of the scammers.

If you do fall for the scam, it’s virtually impossible for law enforcement to get your money back. This is because many of the scammers live in countries where there is no structured law enforcement, so our officials here at home have no one to help them should they pursue the scammers.

“We can’t get your money back, and once you give your social security number out, it’s spreading like wildfire,” O’Neill said.

The IRS says they will never threaten you, nor will they demand immediate payment or give you limited options as to how to pay. Local officials say the best way to avoid being scammed is to ignore the calls altogether.

“It is sort of scary to think that they’re calling me on my own personal cell phone number, the district attorney, but if they’re going to call me I guarantee you they’re going to call everybody else,” O’Neill said.