Targeted in 'I.R.S.' Con

MoneyPak cards are at the center of a new schere, police warn. Courtesy of Flickr

Southampton Town police sent out a warning about phone scams this week, and East Hampton residents may want to pay heed. At least two East Hampton residents were targeted by telephone con artists last week, with one of the two falling victim.

A Springs resident received one such call Friday, in which the caller posed as an Internal Revenue Service agent. Rosalio Sigua told police the caller said he owed back taxes and threatened to seize his 14th Street property along with his immigration card if he did not send him the money. Mr. Sigua contacted his accountant, who assured him his taxes were in good order, leading to the call to the police.

The alert issued by Southampton Town Police Detective Sgt. Lisa Costa this week said that such scammers usually ask for payment via Green Dot cards or Western Union.

Another local resident received a similar call, but was not so fortunate Friday. Hung Kieu of East Hampton was told by a caller that he had to pay $1,000 in back taxes or he would be arrested. Mr. Kieu was instructed to buy two Green Dot MoneyPak cards, and phone the caller back with the number, which he did. He then contacted his attorney who told him the call was likely a scam, and that he should contact police.

Mr. Kieu is now minus the $1,000, plus the $9.90 in Green Dot fees.

The Southampton Town detective included in her email an informational release from the New York Police Department regarding Green Dot card scams, in which the N.Y.P.D. urged caution with Green Dot cards, saying "anyone who has the number on a Green Dot MoneyPak card has access to the funds on the card." The N.Y.P.D. went to say, "Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who calls or emails you, unsolicited."

Detective Costa warned in her press release issued Monday night that callers posing as I.R.S. agents are not the only con artists making the rounds these days. The detective described another common telephone and email con game. "In this scam, the caller will claim to be a friend or relative that got into trouble or was involved in an accident in another country and needs money to get out of jail," the detective wrote. "In some cases the scammer will tell the victim they are a police officer and their grandchild or relative has been arrested and needs to have money sent to them for bail."

A third common scam the detective warned about was when the caller again poses as an officer, this time saying that a warrant for arrest has been issued for the targeted victim for failing to serve jury duty. The caller will then say that the target can pay a fine to avoid arre