The Internal Revenue Service is warning the public about a phone scam that has already bilked people -- mostly seniors -- out of millions of dollars.
Eisa Thibeau, a retired teacher from Winslow, Maine, says she got one of these calls on her answering machine from an "888" area code earlier this week. The man said she owed the IRS money and that they were about to issue a warrant for her arrest.
"Immediately bells went off," said Thibeau. "I said, 'This is not a legitimate phone call.'"
Thibeau called the Winslow Police Department and she wasn't the only one. Chief Shawn O'Leary says it's the third call his department has taken from worried seniors just this week. He says the scammers are trying to gain access to bank accounts, credit card numbers and whatever other personal information they might be able to get out of the rattled person on the other end of the phone line.
"If you get a call asking for money saying there's a warrant, just hang up. One hundred percent of time it's a scam," said O'Leary.
The IRS says they've received 90,000 complaints on the hotline. Unfortunately, 1,100 victims have already lost an estimated $5 million. In a written statement, IRS commissioner John Koskinen reminded taxpayers that their "first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the U.S. mail."
Turns out the number left on Thibeau's voicemail was bogus, but if the scammer does call back, he may regret it.
"I'd tell him, 'Go get a decent job and earn a living!'" said Thibeau. "Don't steal from seniors. It's just wrong."