Police warn of phony IRS scammers calling for money

3 victims in Westlake scammed out of $10,000
Police say the IRS will never ask for payment with gift cards. (Source: WOIO)
Police say the IRS will never ask for payment with gift cards. (Source: WOIO)

WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - Local police are warning a phone scam is circulating.

Three people in Westlake were victimized by thieves, pretending to be from the IRS.

Cleveland 19 spoke with a victim who said the man on the phone knew so much about his life, he had him fooled.

21-year-old Ed Khaddam still has an iTunes gift card for $400 and the receipt. But he's out the cash, after a scammer called his cell phone pretending to be a collection agent with the IRS.

"He told me I had $2,000 for an outstanding school tax," he said.

Khaddam said the caller seemed to know everything about him, including where he goes to college.

His parents pay his taxes, but he was fooled.

"I thought maybe my dad didn't pay it, so he says I have to settle this right now on the phone-- yes or no," he said.

The caller threatened he would be arrested, and then the number "911" popped up on his phone.

"When he did that, I was like, 'whew, whatever you want man,'" Khaddam said.

The caller told Khaddam not to talk to his parents and to pay $700 right away. Then he said he would be able to meet with an attorney in Rocky River and his arrest warrant would disappear.

So Khaddam headed to Walgreens, still on the phone, to buy $400 worth of iTunes gift cards.

"I was blind, I should've seen these red flags," he said.

Khaddam gave the man on the phone the code on his card.

Then he drove to the court house, thinking he would meet with an attorney and this would all be resolved.

But then, the caller asked for $2,000 and Khaddam hung up the phone, realizing he'd been scammed.

He hopes other people won't fall for it too.

"Right away if they're asking for any type of money, want you to do this or that, or tell you they work for the government, just hang up. The government doesn't work like that," he said.

Khaddam filed a police report and contacted Apple about what happened.

In total, police say the three victims lost over $10,000.

Westlake Police said it's important to remember the IRS will never call you and demand money or ask for gift cards as payment.

The only accepted form of payments are cash, check or credit card.

Also, they would never threaten to arrest you.

The best thing to do if you get a call like this is to hang up.

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