CROSBY, TX (KTRK) --Tax day is looming and while you're preparing to file, criminals are busy looking for their next victim. Some scammers are so convincing, they know all your personal information, including your bank account number.
Gerald Gates thought it was the IRS calling and demanding $8,000 to avoid tax evasion charges.
"When I was told I was going to jail - that ain't your normal robbery type thing when someone tells you, 'hey we're going to come arrest you,' you know," said Gates.
The caller claimed IRS agents had already been to his Crosby home and his assets were frozen.
"To me, the U.S. government is nothing to play with. I know they can come take your stuff and do whatever," he said.
The scammers told him to purchase some pre-paid debit cards in order to make a payment, but the specific type of cards were not available at a location near him. So he was then instructed to buy $949 worth of iTunes cards, which was the exact amount in his bank account.
"I figured these cards are in my possession now. If they want to come to my house and work a payment - if they're legit, I'll be there waiting. I told him I'm going to call the cops," he said.
Gates kept all the records of the scam that cost him a week's worth of pay. Despite the caller's threats, he never gave away the iTunes card number that the caller demanded. He was never behind on his taxes, but he initially thought the scam seemed legitimate.
"I had a Game Warden come to a job before and ask for one of my employees because he didn't pay his warrant for illegal fishing," he explained.
Now he's warning others to hang up the phone if they get a similar call. The good news is that Apple is working with Gates to try to refund his money.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office gets a lot of calls about scams similar to this one. You should know that the IRS will never demand immediate payment or ask you for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone. The IRS also won't threaten to bring in law enforcement to arrest you for not paying.
The IRS also won't demand you pay taxes without giving you an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed and the agency will not call you without first having mailed you a bill. If you get a call similar to this, hang up and call law enforcement. You should also check your debit and credit card statements for any suspicious activity.