AARP talks to IRS scammer in new Washington "Unmasking the Impos - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

AARP talks to IRS scammer in new Washington "Unmasking the Imposters" Campaign

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Jayesh Dubey, a 19-year-old from Mumbai, India worked in one of the largest IRS scam boiler rooms in the world. Jayesh was unemployed and jumped at the opportunity at a call center answering calls from America. The job offered a starting salary of 16,000 rupees a month (about $250), plus commissions, which is 6-times more than what anyone else was offering. “It was a whole lot of money,” he said. “In a month I could buy a motorbike. I was really interested - anybody in Mumbai would be interested to work there.”

Jayesh's new job was answering return calls from American consumers after they received a fake phone call from the IRS. The goal was to make the victims pay these "tax bills" by purchasing gift cards and providing the numbers to Jayesh. The owner of the boiler room would send out about 50,000 voicemails each day, claiming to be IRS agents. Jayesh would personally take 150 to 200 calls a day.

Jayesh quit working in the boiler room just before it was busted by Indian authorities in July 2016. 700 people were rounded up for questioning and 61 were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department.

Jayesh recommends these five tips to avoid imposter scams:

  1. IRS Imposter Scam: The IRS will not contact you by phone about paying back taxes without first sending you a written notice.
  2. Tech Support Scam: Technology companies will not contact you to warn about viruses on your machine. Don't give out your financial information, and don't give anyone access to your computer.
  3. Family Emergency Scam:  The goal of this scam is to play on your fears and get you to act fast. Slow down and check with others to make sure you're really hearing from a loved one.
  4. Romance Scam: Be extra careful when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Romance scams often start with fake profiles on online dating sites. Be wary of anyone who professes love too quickly, wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or instant messaging to communicate, or anyone who asks for money.
  5. Foreign Lottery Fraud: You can’t win a lottery you never entered. Plus it’s illegal for a U.S. citizen to participate in a foreign lottery when they are in the U.S.

"Imposter fraud" has taken over the country when a scammer poses as someone they're not in order to steal your money. Whether it's the IRS, a computer technician, or a family member, more than 400,000 reports came in nationwide in 2016, including Washington. According to a new state survey from AARP, 79% of consumers report being targeted by these imposter scams. While 85% of Washingtonians feel that they could avoid a phone scam, 77% of Washingtonians failed an "Imposter IQ" quiz.

“With a dramatic rise in reports of imposter fraud, we’re not surprised to see how many residents have been approached with some type of pitch,” said AARP State Director Doug Shadel. “However, we were alarmed to learn how overconfident Washington consumers are in the face of increasingly sophisticated scammers. The illusion of invulnerability can put people in real danger,” said Shadel. “If you think you’ll never be taken, you’ll likely leave your guard down and not take the steps needed to protect yourself.”

To avoid these scams, AARP has joined with the Attorney General’s Office, Microsoft, the Federal Trade Commission, and BECU to launch the “Unmasking the Imposters” campaign to bring awareness about scams to the people of Washington.

“When it comes to scams, awareness, and prevention are the best protections for consumers,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “Advances in technology make it easier for scammers to pretend to be someone they’re not. The ‘Unmasking the Imposters’ campaign will help consumers spot imposters before they fall victim and help them take preemptive steps to protect against fraud.”

The AARP warns of new scams that Washingtonians might not be aware of yet:

  • Tech Support Scams: Companies like Microsoft do not contact individuals about viruses on their computers. The goal for the scammers is to gain access to your computer and ultimately your money and personal information. While there are many different kinds of tech support scams, Courtney Gregoire with Microsoft says, "you wouldn't give a spare key to your home to a stranger and you should protect access to your computer or device the same way."
  • Lottery Scams: 71% of Washingtonian consumers did not know that it is illegal to play a foreign lottery when you're in the United States. The goal for the scammers is to convince you that you will win the lottery if you buy a foreign lottery ticket. When the scammer calls and says you've won or will win a lottery in a foreign country, they're lying about winning and they're lying when they claim a U.S. citizen can legally buy a foreign lottery ticket while in the United States.
  • Website Scams: While surfing the internet, 72% of Washingtonians believed that a website with a locked box icon means it is safe to interact with the site. The goal is to get you to click on links that will corrupt your computer and ultimately gain access to your money and personal information. Kyle Welsh at BECU suggests that "you click (or double-click) on [the locked box icon] you will see details of the site's security."
  • Telemarketing Calls: Telemarketing calls from companies that you have not done business with are illegal. If you didn't know that was true, don't worry you're not alone, 73% of Washingtonians didn't know that either.You can take our “Imposter IQ” quiz online and see how you stack up against the rest of the state.

You can take our “Imposter IQ” quiz online and see how you stack up against the rest of the state. Also, check out more consumer protection tips and sign up for fraud alerts from the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

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