Hamlet resident Regina Yingling answered her telephone Saturday morning, she expected to be a friend or family member.
Instead, it was a man claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service.
In what Yingling described as a “very intimidating” encounter, the caller asked for “R. Yingling” and told Yingling she was under investigation. Her husband, Robert, happen to have the same first initial.
Regina Yingling said the fact the caller couldn’t identify her by her first name was the first red flag.
“He kept saying, ‘this is important, this is important. You have to call this person,’” Yingling said.
The caller went on: “‘This is a tax issue. You need to call on this … it’s very important.’”
Yingling said her investigating officer was named Dexter Cruz and she was to call him right away at 585-466-0174. According to PhoneComplaint.com, that number has been associated with dozens of unspecified complaints. The 585-466 area code and prefix is in Angelica, N.Y.
When the number is called, there are five rings and then a beep. Then nothing.
Yingling said while she didn’t fall for the potential scam, but “I hate people who would prey on folks who would believe this crap,” Yingling said. “I think folks need to know. I know these calls go out all the time.”
The phone call is not unique to North Carolina residents. The Better Business Bureau has responded to calls of this type. On Friday, BBB spokesperson Amanda Tietze said in a news release that some callers had been contacted and told to pay money immediately or risk jail time.
Others, Tietze said, were told to buy a prepaid debit card or wire transfer and then call the “agent” back to provide the number on the card.
The BBB recommends that if you owe taxes or think you might, contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. If you don’t owe taxes, the BBB recommends calling and reporting the incident to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
Consumers also can contact the Charlotte office of the BBB at charlotebbb.org or by calling 877-317-7236. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.