IRS scam hits area, even targeting police sergeant

IRS scam hits area, even targeting police sergeant

It’s not tax season yet, but scam artists, claiming to be from the IRS, are already targeting residents, including a Janesville police sergeant.

Janesville police say the scam artist calls residents, demands payments and threatens to sue or bring in law enforcement for not paying. Police say anyone can become a target, including law enforcement.

“There was a message left on my answering machine at home, and it was someone that said they were the IRS and said I owed money and would start a lawsuit unless I called them immediately,” Janesville Police Sgt. Brian Donohoue said.

Donohoue warns residents about scams, just like this one, for a living.

Only two people in Janesville have reported becoming targets of the scam. Both the targets told police they were not fooled by the computerized voice, demanding money. Donohoue, who was targeted two months ago, deleted the message but is concerned for residents who might fall victim.

“I understand how this happens even though I’m a police officer. I preach this stuff, and I protect myself. I tell people how to protect themselves. Sometimes, people steal your identity,” he said.

Donohoue said scammers call from untraceable numbers and a hard to track.

What used to be a scam that targeted residents during the tax season is now becoming an everyday occurrence, according the Better Business Bureau.

To help prevent people from falling for scams, the BBB created Scam Tracker, an online map that shows reported scams and the number of people that have been targeted. In the last six months, more than 1,600 people have reported the IRS scam on the website.

Madison’s BBB said the national bureau gets calls reporting the IRS scam daily, making it the largest scam ever.

The IRS said anyone who demands money over the phone, does not allow the victim to ask questions about the amount and asks for banking information, or threatens legal action for not paying are scammers after the money.

“IRS does not call residents and threaten lawsuits or investigation. That’s not how they conduct their business. What these scam artists are doing is just trying to get some identity from these victims,” Donohoue said.