Immigrants, People With Foreign-Sounding Names Warned Of Phone Scam

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UPDATED: Thursday March 13, 2014 11:54 PM

Authorities warn people of bogus phone calls targeting immigrants who live in Central Ohio.

They say the scammers are trying to bilk people out of their cash.

The Federal Communications Commission says phone scams are up 25 percent in the past year. Local authorities say people with foreign-sounding names are often the target.

Columbus resident Majid Hamza tells 10TV that it all started with a simple phone call.

"She says you're being investigated by the IRS, for the internal revenue service," said Hamza.

After a short time on the phone, Hamza said he sensed something was wrong. He hung up and directly dialed the IRS.

"(The IRS agent) said, you know, there's nothing to worry about, there's nothing in your file. I think the whole thing is a scam and, coincidence, the call before your call was something like that and I told them it's a scam," said Hamza.

The next day, Hamza said he found out a friend of his also received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS.

"He said, if you want to ignore this, you should pay $1,500. As soon as he said to pay him money, I hang up because I start to get nervous and upset," said Hamza's friend, who wants to remain anonymous. "I'm still shaking every time I think about it. I'm scared."

She says the caller threatened to send police to arrest her and her husband if she didn't pay. That's when she says she called police. They told her it was a scam.

Others tell 10TV they received an automated call threatening legal action. It said, in part, "The issue is very time sensitive. So, before IRS takes any legal actions against your name or your social security number, call us back as soon as possible."

One person, who received the automated call, filed a local police report only after handing over tens of thousands of dollars.

He and others want to warn people before it's too late.

"When they steal that thing, you got nothing left for you. Your savings are gone. Your checking is ransacked. It's terrible," said Hamza.

The Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio says if you find yourself questioning the caller, ask for their information and verify who they are. Don't give any of your personal information over phone and if you find someone suspicious, report them to authorities.

The BBB says it is better to be overly cautious, than find yourself in a difficult situation.

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