Three Rivers flooded with hundreds of IRS scam phone calls

Three Rivers flooded with hundreds of IRS scam phone calls. (WWMT/File)

Several West Michigan communities received multiple reports of IRS scam calls on Friday including Van Buren County, who said to report the calls to the IRS website, Vicksburg, and St. Joseph County.

Hundreds of people have called into St. Joseph County Central Dispatch reporting an Internal Revenue Service phone scam in the Three Rivers area. Three Rivers Sgt. Sam Smallcombe said the volume of calls is way out of the ordinary.

“The norm is we get maybe a couple a week that trickle in,” Smallcombe said. “I don’t know what happened to cause us to get this many calls.”

Rodney Mesick was one of the targets of the scammers. He said he received a call Friday morning from a woman claiming to be with the IRS.

The caller told Mesick, “according to Section 101, there was a miscalculation over your tax filing with an amount of $6,400, which is still outstanding under your name.”

Mesick said the caller threatened him with federal charges if he didn’t pay up within a few hours.

The caller said he would be charged with violation of federal tax regulations, violation of internal revenue code, and willful misrepresentation of information against a government organization.

“You really think it’s legitimate, of course, and of course you have a lot of fear there,” Mesick said.

The scammer also claimed if Mesick failed to pay, Three Rivers Police would arrest him.

Mesick was told he would be arrested by the lady posing as the IRS, and seconds after hanging up on her, he received a second call with the caller ID saying the number was that of the Three Rivers Police Department.

“The Three Rivers Police Department is not going to call you on the phone and threaten you to pay fines,” Smallcombe said. “We’re going to send an officer, or we’re going to send you a letter.”

Smallcombe also said the department doesn’t arrest people for unpaid taxes. He said most of the victims of these scams are elderly.

“Seems to be the population that’s most gullible or trusting when someone calls them on the phone and says, ‘I’m the IRS, send us money,’” he said.

Smallcombe said, as was the case with Mesick, scammers masked their calls with other area phone numbers.

Mesick is just glad he wasn’t scammed out of his hard-earned money.

Smallcombe said victims who do pay likely never get their money back. He said, “Just hang up on these people.”

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