Spike in fake IRS phone scam reported in Hawaii

Pay up or go to jail. That is the call making its way around Hawaii.

While it is nothing new, the IRS scam seems to be popping back up again in the islands. This time around, it seems scammers are getting more sophisticated to make their calls seem more legitimate.

KHON2 received several calls and emails this afternoon to our newsroom about the scam.

It’s either a phone call or a voice mail informing potential victims that they have to pay money or they could be sent to jail or even be sued.

“It was a very disturbing message from the IRS saying that there was a lawsuit pending against me,” said Oahu resident Anthony Lani.

While the fake IRS calls are nothing new to Hawaii, the Better Business Bureau says there is a reason we are seeing an increase in calls.

“The reason it is happening more so now is because these people thrive in an area where there is confusion,” said Greg Dunn, Hawaii Better Business Bureau CEO. “If they understand that you are stressed and you are spending money and you just want to get it over with, you are more likely to follow what they say.”

That’s why the holidays are a prime time for these phone calls. In the last month, there has been 24 reported calls.

“If you receive a message on your phone, don’t call back,” said Dunn. “Reporting is the biggest thing you can do.”

If you receive a call like this, do your research to make sure that the call is legitimate. If you think it is fake, look over receipts and check your bank statements. You can also reach out to the BBB.

“There are people in the community that have lost upwards of $2,500 to $5,000 to these people and we need to warn the rest of the community not to fall victim to this very common scam,” Dunn said.

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