District Attorney Alert: Scam Could Spell Trouble for Seniors During Tax Season

Published : Friday, March 25, 2016 | 12:01 PM

With the annual tax filing deadline looming, local seniors should be on guard for thieves posing as investigators from the Internal Revenue Service, says an advisory from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey is taking a special interest in the protection of seniors as she tells the story of her mother, Addie, who was victimized by a scammer who sought money by falsely claiming her grandson was in jail about four years ago.

Lacey and her mother are now featured in a video public service announcement that warns seniors against financial scams.

According to the alert, one in five seniors has been the victim of financial fraud.

“Con artists use a variety of ways to get the hard-earned savings of seniors. Recognizing these scams is not always easy. But if you are aware of the warning signs, you may avoid becoming a victim,” the alert says.

Financial scammers typically make unsolicited phone calls claiming to be IRS investigators or law enforcement officers. The calls typically lead to the scammers threatening their potential victims with criminal prosecution, arrest or deportation – unless payment is made, usually through prepaid debit cards.

The DA’s office listed some immediate tips on its website on how seniors can avoid being victims. It said the IRS will never call anyone about a tax return problem; it will send a letter instead.

“Do not give out any personal identifying information during an unsolicited call. Do not send money to anyone claiming to be from a governmental agency,” says the DA advisory.

The DA website also lists possible scenarios that scammers may use to defraud seniors, including relatives needing money to get out of jail, fraudulent health treatment or weight-loss solutions, fake charities seeking donations on the phone and auto-collision scams.

These scenarios and tips, including a link to some public service announcement videos warning about scams, can be accessed through the DA’s elder abuse and financial fraud web pages, www.da.lacounty.gov/seniors/financial-fraud. A video about the IRS investigator scam can be viewed on www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y5z0kWgBcM.

The DA’s office has also prepared a pamphlet to help seniors and their families avoid becoming fraud victims. The pamphlet can be viewed here.



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