Detective Bureau Corner

IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scams

A sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Some thieves have used video relay services (VRS) to try to scam deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Taxpayers are urged not trust calls just because they are made through VRS, as interpreters don’t screen calls for validity. For more details see this IRS video: Tax Scams via Video Relay Service

Limited English Proficiency victims are often approached in their native language, threatened with deportation, police arrest and license revocation, among other things. IRS urges all taxpayers caution before paying unexpected tax bills. Please visit this page: IRS Alerts Taxpayers with Limited English Proficiency of Ongoing Phone Scams

 Note that the IRS doesn't:
  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying. Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
CREDIT: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts

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Drones


The City of Wilton Manors has seen an increase of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or DRONE as they are commonly called flying around the City limit.  Flying a drone can be exciting and fun but there are rules and regulations associated with flying safely and responsibly. Many don’t realize that, just because you can easily purchase a drone, doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere. 
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first insists that all owners of a DRONE weighing between .55 pounds to 55 pounds must register their unit with the agency or face fines of up to $250,000. You can register at, http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration. The following are some rules that you must abide by during flight: 
The maximum allowable altitude is 400 feet. The aviation authorities recommend flying below 400 feet or 121 meters and you are responsible for making sure that your drone stays within the safety limit at all times. 
Maintain visual line of sight, always make sure you can see your drone in plain sight, and check weather conditions as fog clouds can impede your vision.  
Don’t fly over crowds/people. Stay away from stadiums, public events, and community events where large groups of people may congregate. 
Fly in accordance with a set of community-based guidelines.  Although the FAA is the sole authority on airspace, remember your city might have its own regulations on where you can take off within the city limit. 
Don’t fly after dark, dark is considered 30 minutes before official sunrise or 30 minutes after official sunset even if your drone has night lights. 
Lastly, be aware of controlled airspace.  The city of Wilton Manors is located within five miles of two airports, Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (class C and class D airspace), because of these airspace restrictions there should be NO drone flying within the City of Wilton Manors unless you have an FAA remote pilot license and received proper authorization. 
To know whether you are authorized to fly and what airspace you are in download the “B4UFLY” application, an easy-to-use smartphone app that helps unmanned aircraft operators determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to fly. If we all follow these rules for safe and worry-free flight, we can keep the skies safer for everyone.  

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Cyber Crime


Cyber Crime
criminals and this falls into the digital world. As we surf the World Wide Web people tend to get relaxed and forget about the digital sharks lurking. These digital criminals prey on people who aren’t making safe choices in this virtual world. These crimes are becoming more lucrative and popular because they are able to remain anonymous. This criminal does not have to be strong, fast, or have nerves of steel, because they can do the crimes from the comfort of their home. These criminals also know how hard it is to track them and this just fuels their feeling of being nameless.

The most prevalent item we would like to discuss is the emails that plague our inboxes on a daily basis. Emails can be a nice way to communicate and share information. They are popular in the business world because there is an electronic copy and the time stamp, date, and received information is recorded digitally. The problem is criminals know this and they can include viruses within the message. If you see an email that is from an unknown source, the best option is not to open the email and delete it. Another tip is to stay weary of emails address that you believe you may know. Something as simple as johnsmith@att.net versus john’smith@att.net could be the difference between a friend and someone attempting to steal your information. There have been numerous instances of “retailers” sending emails requesting previous clients to provide a credit card number to keep on file. Furthermore, if the email is a solicitation that was not sought after then the offer really is too good to be true. We promise there is no Prince in Nigeria that has a billion dollars he wants to give away and that the Publishers Clearing House is not going to ask you for money upfront to claim a prize. Even simply opening the email and clicking the link could allow a virus to capture your most sensitive information.

We would also like to talk about telephone scams, because it falls under the anonymous identity that many digital criminals work under it is extremely difficult to track and follow. If anyone ever calls you and ask for sensitive information over the phone you can say NO! Places such as doctors’ offices don’t need your entire social security number. They can work simply off your last four digits in their medical billing system. The few extra steps it takes to employ these items can be time consuming for both parties involved, but in the long run it can help keep your identity “yours” and not the digital criminals victim.
There are many programs and services that are offered that can keep your identity safe. Depending on your budget and how many problems you have with the digital crimes will dictate what is best to keep your identity yours. But all these services are wasted unless “you” keep your personal information personal. 

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Boating Safety


With the official start of summer just around the corner, so is the perfect weather for getting out on the waterways. We just want Boating Safetyto discuss some general waterway safety for everyone to have a fun and safe summer on the water. Every person aboard a vessel under the age of 6 must wear an approved Type I, II, or III life jacket while the vessel is underway. Every vessel less than 39.4 ft in length must carry an efficient sound-producing device. Vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc). All boaters must abide by the posted wake zones for their safety and that of others. When planning a day on the water make sure to check the weather forecast. Also depending on your vessel size make sure to check the tides to insure you are safely able to navigate your vessel under bridges. If you are the operator of a vessel avoid alcohol. Boating under the influence is against the law the same as operating a vehicle under the influence. Wilton Manors Police recommends beginning boaters and experienced expert’s alike take a boating safety course to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation. If you’re going to have your pet join you make sure you keep plenty of fresh drinking water available, and provide them a shaded area on the vessel to avoid excessive sun exposure.

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Scammers Push People to Pay with iTunes Gift Cards


One thing we know about scammers — they want money, and they want it fast. That’s why, whatever the con they’re running, theyGift Card Scam usually ask people to pay a certain way. They want to make it easy for themselves to get the money — and nearly impossible for you to get it back.
Their latest method? iTunes gift cards. To convince you to pay, they might pretend to be with the IRS and say you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay back taxes right now. Or pose as a family member or online love interest who needs your help fast. But as soon as you put money on a card and share the code with them, the money’s gone for good.

If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card. Other payment methods scammers might ask for include Amazon gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla, or by wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram. Government offices won’t require you to use these payment methods.

If you get targeted by a scam like this, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Article by: Amy Herbert/Consumer Education Specialist, FTC