By Jim Smith

GARDNER (CBS) – Believe it or not the Gardner Police Department is the latest victim in a telephone scam targeting virtually anybody with a phone.

It starts with a phone call that you may have received yourself, a caller demanding money claiming to be from the IRS.

A Gardner resident called investigators after getting that call. He got suspicious and told the scammer they would need to call police to get payment information. Incredibly the scammer did just that, jamming the dispatch phone lines.

“At some point they used the Internet system to just download all our trunk lines into our business line and inundated our dispatch with dozens of calls at once,” said Deputy Police Chief John Bernard.

Gardner Police dispatchers (WBZ-TV)

Gardner Police dispatchers (WBZ-TV)

But that’s not all; they stole the police caller ID number and called other people pretending to be the cops.

Police dispatch supervisor Laurie Lyons says that prompted a flood of calls from alarmed residents.

“They had just received a phone call from the Gardner Police Dept. on their caller ID stating that they had a warrant for their arrest and they were the IRS,” Lyons said. “We advised them that we’re sorry but they had taken our caller ID and spoofed it into right into their phone program.”

Mayor Mark Hawke sent out reverse 911 calls to thousands of residents warning them about the scam.

“According to the IRS website there’s over 90,000 complaints about this scam that’s going on and 1,100 people have lost over $5 million combined so far through this particular scam,” Mayor Hawke said.

Police say they weren’t able to trace the calls which may come from another country.

The bottom-line? No the real IRS will not call you to demand money. The best advice? Hang up.


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