HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - When a Henrico woman got a call from an alleged scammer she decided she would take action on behalf of herself and any other potential victims.
"I wanted to catch him," Kathryn Schill said.
The man on the other end of the phone said he was from the IRS and that she owed nearly $2,500 after being audited on her taxes for years 2010 to 2015.
"He said that they were letting me know that they were sending the sheriff over to have me arrested and that I'd have all of my assets frozen," Schill said.
At first, she believed him a little because he gave her information on where she works, something she says is not widely known.
"Then I remembered about the scams that channel 12 had reported on several times and I was thinking this has got to be a scam," Schill said. She asked the caller for her social security number and when he couldn't provide it she knew he was a fraud. That's when she made a key decision. "To kinda get a little even."
The caller told her to go to the bank and withdraw the money, then go to CVS and send it off in a MoneyGram. Schill pretended to comply while keeping the man on the phone for nearly three hours.
"He was really chomping at the bit because he thought he was going to get his money," Schill said. Little did the caller know that during the extended conversation, Schill's mother had called police on another line. An officer responded and listened to some of the phone call before he chimed in and told the man he thought it was a scam. "Then he started calling the police officer names and he called him an SOB and then he hung up."
"As far as we can recall this is the first time where somebody held them on the phone long enough for us to arrive and talk to them," said Lt. Chris Eley with Henrico Police. Though the officer filled out an incident report, investigators say catching these kinds of criminals is difficult because they use spoofed phone numbers and often times they're not in the same city and may be out of the country.
"But it gave us more information than we had before," Lt. Eley said. "I think we almost put the people on notice as well that, 'hey, we know what's going on and we know what you're doing.'"
Schill is heartened that she did her part to fight back against a crime that is so rampant.
"My thing is the elderly and even single moms and single parents they might get all frazzled and hopefully they don't fall for something like this," Schill said.
Investigators reiterate the IRS never will call you demanding that you make payment using a prepaid debit or gift card or MoneyGram. The agency will contact you in writing on letterhead. And they warn you to be very hesitant about giving out personal information by phone that a crook could use to steal your identity.
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