MONTEREY -- A "very disturbing" report of an attempted tax season scam that recently targeted a local resident has prompted a warning from Monterey police.

A Monterey woman reported to police that she was called several times by a person claiming to be an Internal Revenue Service agent, according to Monterey Police Sgt. Michael Johnson, who investigated the case.

The caller threatened the woman with arrest, seizure of her home and vehicle if she did not pay up on four lawsuits that he said were filed against her.

The woman, who asked not to be identified for this story, was alerted to the fraudulent nature of the call because that person used her maiden name, she said. The caller also threatened that the city police would be coming to her home.

"I don't live in a city," she said.

The woman said there had been several hang up calls at her residence. Thinking it might be a relative, she called back and spoke to somebody who repeatedly stated they were with the IRS and asked if she had a lawyer.

"I thought something was wrong because I didn't do anything wrong with my taxes," she said. She asked to speak to a supervisor but the person said he didn't have a supervisor.

The caller said she owed more than $2,900. She hung up before the person asked for money.

Johnson said he was able to trace the phone number to a Washington D.C. company that sells telephone service.

When he contacted the phone number, he heard from people claiming to be representatives for H&R Block and the IRS.

After determining that a scam was going on, he contacted a legal representative for H&R Block, who said this has happened to numerous customers. He was told by the company's representative that some people have been taken for more than $4,000 by the scammers after providing their credit card information.

Johnson alerted the IRS, Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about the matter.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asks that anybody who is a victim of financial scams or other fraudulent financial collection matters call 855-411-2372. The IRS also is warning people to be aware of such frauds.

"It's a really troubling thing," Johnson said. "It's tax season and I don't want anybody to fall victim to this."

The woman who received the call said "I really felt badly how they do this to people who are more naive than I am. Even if you know you haven't done anything wrong they get you by their threats. They try to intimidate, harass and threaten you verbally. It could make you think irrationally," she said.

Since they have some personal information on people, it could be used to make some second guess themselves, she said. "They prey on your fears and emotions."

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
nmayberg@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6243