LEWISTON — An Auburn police detective is expected to testify Wednesday before a congressional committee about a phone scam targeting the elderly.

Jason Moore, who has been with the Auburn Police Department since 1998, prepared remarks for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, for which Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is chairwoman.

She invited Moore to address the committee about a recent investigation Moore conducted that involved a 50-year-old Auburn grandmother, who was scammed out of $23,000 last month by a man posing as an Internal Revenue Service agent.

The complex scam was carried out over several days, employed phony telephone numbers that traced back to local police and prosecutors’ offices and had the woman speaking to several men posing as a government agent, an attorney, an account manager and a law enforcement officer.

The woman, whom Moore refers to in his written testimony as Mrs. A, was told she owed money in back taxes, but was warned not to share that information with anyone else. She was embarrassed by her situation and broke into tears several times during her ordeal, Moore wrote in his testimony.

She had been wiring money to the designated accounts, each successive time being told she owed more.

The woman eventually contacted local police and Moore took over the investigation, he wrote. He spoke with the man bilking Mrs. A out of tens of thousands and dollars (who had a distinctly Indian accent) and told him she would no longer be speaking to him. The man had told her to destroy all of her receipts for the wire transfers, but she held on to them and turned them over to police.

Moore wrote that he helped her to recover more than half of the money she had lost by working with her bank.

Federal investigators are continuing to look into her case, Moore is expected to testify.

Auburn police issued a news release in March warning of the scam.

Residents were urged to hang up on any such callers and phone the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 if they owed federal taxes or think they might owe taxes. IRS workers can help with any questions about payment, police said. If no taxes are owed, residents who receive calls purporting to be from the IRS can call and report the incident to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484, police said.

Moore wrote that he also used social media to help get the word out.

“I am hopeful that our public outreach will serve to minimize future victims of this crime,” he is expected to tell the committee. “I am, however, dismayed that Mrs. A’s large volume of money order and prepaid card purchases were unchallenged by the retailers or the money transfer providers. She has been given little hope of getting the remaining $11,256 back from those businesses.”

In her opening remarks, Collins is expected to spotlight the “fraudsters, swindlers and scam artists that plague America’s seniors.”

“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has called this scam ‘the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of the IRS,’” she wrote in a prepared statement.

“According to the inspector general’s office, ‘more than 434,000 Americans have been targeted by scammers impersonating IRS officials, and thousands of citizens have been defrauded of millions of dollars.’ The inspector general’s office estimates that 10,000 IRS impersonation scam calls are placed every week,” she wrote.

[email protected]



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: