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Police recover funds for scam victim

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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In late June, a 64-year-old Prescott resident reported the loss of SI0.000 in an apparent IRS phone scam. She told deputies that she cares for her special-needs brother and owes $9,000 in back taxes to the IRS on his behalf. She recently paid the IRS more than $5,000 of the tax due and was in the process of calling the IRS case agent to follow-up when she noticed an 800 number stored on the caller ID screen.

Believing the number originated from the IRS. she called and spoke to a man identified as "Allen Cooper" who told her the IRS would seize her home if $10,000 was not paid. The victim noted that Cooper knew the name of her mother and brother and was aware of her prior payment to the IRS. This led to the belief she was working with an actual agent.

Following the suspect's instructions, the victim went to a local Bank of America and deposited $10,000 into an account specified by Cooper-After leaving the bank, some friends told the victim she had been scammed. She went back to the bank and an employee contacted the recipient account holder in California who refused to cooperate and release the funds.

The deputy followed up and contacted YCSO detectives, who in turn obtained subpoenas for bank paperwork regarding the transaction.

Eventually the account was frozen by court order and detectives traveled to California with a search warrant to investigate. The account holder in California was cooperative and indicated he could not explain how or why the victim's money had been placed in his account. No arrests were made at the time and this part of the investigation continues.

Detectives, working with bank officials, were able to freeze the stolen $10,000 in the California account during the investigation. Recently, the bank completed necessary procedures to recover the victim's money and last week issued a check for $10,000 in the victim's name. The check was released to the victim Aug. 6.

This victim is fortunate that detectives were able to track and return the stolen money as many of these cases go unsolved due to poor leads.

YCSO reminds everyone that fraud suspects have the ability by computer to generate phone numbers legitimately assigned to government agencies. This prevents the suspect's actual phone number from being displayed and gives the impression the call is from the government agency represented. Always verify the number and source of the call before conducting any business. In the case of the IRS, they will never call to demand a payment.

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Original Publication Date: August 12, 2015

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