HEMPSTEAD COUNTY – A Hempstead County man has reported being scammed out of thousands of dollars over the telephone over the weekend.

According to Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton, Deputy Sorensen responded Saturday morning to the residence of a man who reported falling prey to a phone scam on Friday.

The man told Deputy Sorensen that he received a call from a 437 area code from a man claiming to be a Sergeant James Miller of the narcotics division of the Dallas Police Department. The caller reportedly mentioned the name of an old friend and former employee of the man’s and told him that the she had been arrested and needed money for bail. He reported the caller even put someone one on the phone who sounded like his old friend who he hadn’t spoken with in 15 years.

The man reported to Deputy Sorensen that the caller told him that the woman needed $4,000 and that they couldn’t take a check from him because he was from out of state. The caller told the Hempstead County man that they would only accept Walmart or Target gift cards.

The man told Deputy Sorensen that he purchased ten $200 gift cards from Walmart in Nashville and a $2,000 gift card from Target in Texarkana and called the man claiming to be from the Dallas PD back at 437-925-5383. He then gave the man the numbers for all the gift cards.

The 437 area code is for Toronto, Canada.

The alleged scammer reportedly called the man back Saturday morning and told him that his friend now needed another $4,000 for lawyer fees.

The man said to Deputy Sorensen that he then contacted his credit card company to extend his credit to make the purchases and was told that he was being scammed and advised him to call law enforcement. He reported that he contacted Target about the card he purchased and was told that the card had already been redeemed Friday night at the Broadway Mall Target in Chula Vista, California.

The IRS offers five tips to spot scammers at  irs.gov:

1) They call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS says they will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.

2) They will demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

3) They require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

4) They ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

5) They may threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.

The IRS says it does not currently use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues.

The IRS advises the following if you believe you’ve been contacted by scammers:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about payment options. You also may be able to set up a payment plan online at IRS.gov.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484 or at gov.
  • If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at gov. Use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the scam. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

You should also contact local law enforcement to make them aware of the scam so they can get the word out and help prevent any of your neighbors from falling prey to scammers.

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