LSO warns of IRS gift card scam

Posted by: Abigail Wood

We’ve heard about IRS scams before, but there’s a new trap to look out for. The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office says callers are threatening victims with arrest and imprisonment for "unpaid taxes." They then demand victims purchase gift cards–commonly I-Tunes or Amazon–and give the caller the card information. 

In just the last two weeks, there have been two of these gift card scams in the county. Just yesterday, a woman lost more than $2,700.

"The suspect instructed the victim to not hang up, and gave specific instructions to withdraw cash from her bank, to go to a local store, purchase Amazon gift cards, and then text photographs of the gift cards and receipts to the suspect’s phone number," Chief Deputy Todd Duncan.

And it’s not just in the county. Lincoln Police responded to six I-Tunes gift card scams since the beginning of the year. Just Monday, a caller threatened a victim with a warrant if she didn’t pay up, and she lost $1,000 after buying two $500 I-Tunes cards. The sheriff’s office says it’s important to know the IRS will never threaten immediate arrest or demand you pay taxes without a chance to appeal the amount you owe. 

"They will also never require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer," Duncan said.

These gift card scams aren’t limited to IRS fraud, they’ve popped up in connection with the grandparents scam and others like it. Callers are just asking for I-Tunes cards or other gift cards instead of money order.

If you receive a fraudulent phone call, you can report it to the Attorney General’s Office here.