LEE COUNTY, Fla. - WINK News is uncovering a scam that's common during tax season. This time, a Cape Coral taxpayer was the target. She got a phone call saying a mistake on her return made her eligible for a refund. It all seemed real at first.
"This is to inform you that an additional tax refund of dollars 2, 173 is to be paid to you," said the voicemail.
The call told Tara Simpson she was eligible for a tax refund because an audit found a mistake in her husband's business expenses. "Your refund will be credited to your account once we verity your credentials," the voicemail said.
The caller ID said Washington DC.
She called the next day and a man calling himself Investigator Alex Matthews told her she was due a refund of more than two-thousand dollars. He knew everything about her, even, that she had already filed her tax returns for this year.
"They had all of my pertinent information, they had all of the amounts of my tax returns over the last three years, they had my social security number, my husbands social security number," Simpson said.
"Alex" even gave Simpson an employee ID number. But then came the red flag: when the man on the phone told her in order to get the refund she first had to pay a fee of $190. She could do that by either giving him a bank account number or use a prepaid debit card.
She hung up and called the IRS and authorities.
IRS spokesman Mike Dobzinski says she did the right thing. "When someone asks you to put some money up front in order to get some money, that's most likely a scam," he said. "And don't pay any attention to them."
"Before you send money to somebody make sure its actually the people you do need to send it to," said Simpson.
The spokesman says the IRS can call you. And if you get a call, you need to ask for a call-back number and employee badge number. If they give you that, he says, hang up, then contact the IRS to see if the caller is indeed an employee.
The number for the IRS is 800-829-1040.
You can also call the Lee County Sheriff's Fraud Tip Line at 477-1242.
The IRS website is www.irs.gov