7 On Your Side: How to avoid getting ripped off in the newest tax scam

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Reporter Nina Pineda has the latest on the newest scam.

She was scared out of her life savings, more than $19,000. That's what happened to the latest victim of an ultra-elaborate IRS scheme.

"I was trying to do the right thing," said Liz Hogg, who was threatened with an arrest unless she settled a debt to the IRS - taxes on her student loans, specifically.

Liz was scammed by a woman scammer who spoofed a police department number upstate, claiming to be an FBI agent.

"She said I would be arrested," recalled Hogg. "It was scary. The warrant existed because I failed to respond to any of the IRS mailings about the taxes I owe them. She mentioned the tax form and I remembered ignoring it."

Believing she was guilty, the caller explained the charges against her would be dropped if she acted right away.

"She said the IRS had government verified voucher cards," said Hogg. "And I would have to buy those and give them to the IRS."

She was convinced the vouchers were only payable in Apple gift cards.

"The closest of these stores is the Apple store on Flatbush Avenue, (in Brooklyn) so please go there. And I said can't. I take the subway and she said no, the call will drop, and I need the call recorded to prove my innocence," said Hogg.

Liz maxed our her debit card purchasing the first batch of cards for $4500. So after the scammer recorded the card codes she told Liz to go to her bank, withdraw $5000 in cash and buy more gift cards. After providing those codes, she got another call, a man saying he was Eric, the New York Attorney General.

"He called me from 911 so he also phished that number," recalled Hogg.

Liz was instructed to go to Harlem to pick up a refund check at IRS headquarters. Yet once she got there, the scammers claimed she had another charge to settle.

"This time she told me to take out $10,000. I think she knew what was in my bank account because it was exactly all my money," said Hogg.

The phony cop never let her hang up. Beginning at her home in Park Slope, Liz went straight to the Apple store in Downtown Brooklyn, then traveled via Uber to the real IRS office in Harlem before being ordered to the Apple store on Manhattan's Upper East Side. With two trips to her bank in between, the elaborate scam odyssey lasted seven straight hours.

In total she got taken for $19,500, every penny she saved playing gigs since high school.

The big takeaway - know the tell tale red flags to this scam. First, the scammer will try to keep you on the phone - not allowing you to hang up. That's done so you can't call the IRS or law enforcement to check on their con job.

They will always use scare tactics - usually threatening you with arrest if you don't pay this debt off immediately.

And they'll usually ask you to pay them off in gift or money cards. Apple or iTunes cards are the hot currency now.

If you smell a scam - just hang up. Remember, the IRS will NEVER call or email you.


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