March 27, 2015


The Florence County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous calls and complaints regarding telephone scams designed to separate you from your money. While the scams in the past have taken on a variety of forms and methods, the latest scam goes something like this:

The caller identifies himself as an investigator or examiner with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicating that you owe a substantial amount of back taxes, and that if you do not pay immediately, like right now, law enforcement, specifically the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, will be coming to take you to jail. But you can prevent all that inconvenience and embarrassment by paying the amount on your credit card or loading a gift card with the amount owed and providing the PIN number. You may also be asked to confirm your identity by providing your bank account information or Social Security number.


First of all, the IRS is not likely to contact you out of the blue about a tax dispute over the telephone, and even if they do, you are not likely going to resolve the dispute over the telephone with a credit card or a gift card. And finally, rest assured that the Florence County Sheriff’s Office is not coming to take you to jail based on a dispute with the IRS. If you receive any such call making these or similar claims, it is a scam.

The calls almost never originate from the number shown on “caller ID” and even though it may show a local area code, the call is probably made from locations outside the United States. Our Investigators, who work closely with other law enforcement agencies and the Federal government in attempting to stop these scams, tell us that tracking the caller is virtually impossible.

While no one seems to be immune to these calls, the scammers seem to target the elderly, exploiting their genuine sense of pride in not owing any debts and trust of what people tell them, especially if the caller claims some lawful authority. To make matters even worse, an elderly or vulnerable victim will be reluctant or embarrassed to report to loved ones that they have been scammed for fear of forced changes in life style, especially if they have been victimized more than once. One thing is sure; if you ever fall for this scam once, you will be routinely contacted with similar calls. Unfortunately, far too many fall for the scam and send large sums of money to the crooks, only to be severely disappointed when the claims turn out to be false. Investigators believe that the recent increase in these types of calls coincides with the upcoming April 15 tax filing season.

FCSO suggests that the best course of action upon receiving such a call is simply to hang up. The IRS has other ways to reach you than over the phone if there is a legitimate problem with your taxes. If you receive the message on voice mail, do not return the call. And finally, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER provide financial information, personal information or attempt to pay any claimed debt by way of credit card, prepaid credit card or loaded gift card over the telephone. Don’t be a victim of the scammers.

Major Michael M. Nunn
General Counsel/P.I.O.