BBB warns of scams using iTunes gift cards for payments

One local resident did the right thing when it comes to outsmarting scammers – and hopes by telling his story others will do the same.

On Tuesday the gentleman’s cell phone rang while he was at work. Caller ID on his phone showed a call from New York – and a number he did not recognize.

“I didn’t answer it,” the resident – who asked not to use his name – said. “In a moment, my phone signaled me that I had a voicemail.”

The message left was from an “Eric Wilson” – although the resident said the caller’s strong foreign accent made it hard to understand the name exactly.

“… He said he was with the Department of Legal Affairs/U.S. Treasury and that he was calling about what sounded like my lien,” he said. “The Department of U.S. Treasury doesn’t care anything about my liens.”

The message continued with the scammer leaving the phone number twice – 347-894-5932 – the same number appearing on the caller ID.

This is where the local gentleman did the right thing. Instead of calling the number, he called the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department to report the number.

“(The department) did try to call the number twice and both times they tried (the call) did not go through,” he said. “That’s what the deputy told me.”

The gentleman speculates the scammers have a system in place to not pick up certain numbers – or, that perhaps that number has been “dumped” and a new number is being used.

The department ran a check on the number which showed it did originate from Queens County, New York.

“If anyone gets a call from that number, or from someone claiming to be Eric Wilson with the Department of Legal Affairs for the U.S. Treasury, it is probably a scam,” he said.

In February, the Better Business Bureau wrote about the scam and gave the following advice to the public.

Neither the U.S. Department of Treasury nor the IRS will contact consumers by phone to demand money, or threaten legal action. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from one of these agencies, demanding money or threatening legal action, do not engage in conversation with the caller - hang up the phone.

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS yourself at 800-829-1040 to get instructions on how to proceed.

Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to bully their targets into doing what they want. This is a tactic many scammers use. If you feel threatened on a phone call with a solicitor, or someone claiming to represent a government agency, hang-up and contact BBB for advice. If the caller’s threats are extreme or frightening, contact your local police department to report the abusive call.

If you receive a similar call report it to local law enforcement agencies or online at www.bbb.org/scamtraker.

Shawnna Robinson is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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