Appleton woman out $4,000 after visit from IRS scammer

Appleton Police released this composite sketch of the alleged IRS scammer.
Appleton Police released this composite sketch of the alleged IRS scammer.

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – Appleton Police are looking for help in identifying a man they say scammed a local woman out of more than $5,000 dollars. The man showed up at the woman’s house, posing as some sort of law enforcement agent, and threatened to arrest the woman if she didn’t pay what he claimed were back taxes.

It was a knock at the door last month that ended up costing an appleton woman thousands of dollars. After receiving repeated phones from someone claiming she owned money to the IRS, a man showed up at the woman’s house. He was wearing what appeared to be some sort of law enforcement uniform and threatened to arrest her if she didn’t settle what he claimed were back taxes.

According to Sgt. Dave Lund with the Appleton Police Department, “He did have some paperwork with him, showed it her, led her to believe that there was an arrest warrant for her.”

Fearing she would be taken into custody, the woman did as the man instructed her to do. She went to several stores in the Appleton area and not only purchased and activated iTunes gift cards, but she also sent money orders to clear herself of the debt.

Lund says, “It’s easy for people to be callous about this and say that person should have known at that point that this wasn’t the IRS. In speaking with her, she said she’s never been that scared and people do things when they’re not thinking correctly.”

And that’s why the Appleton Police Department is putting out a composite sketch of the man. Not only in hopes of someone recognizing him, but also to find any other potential victims.

“We understand that there’s a level of embarrassment, we need to know about this. We need to know what’s going on in the community,” says Lund.

Police just don’t want anyone else to become a victim of this scam. Lund adds, “This is not the way the IRS does business. This is not the way government agencies do business. They will send you notification in the mail. They will direct you where to go, that kind of thing. They’re not going to call you up.”

Appleton Police say the scammer is described as:

  • Olive/darker complexion
  • About 200 pounds
  • Appeared “fit”
  • 6 feet – 6’2″ tall
  • Dark hair
  • “R. James” on badge
  • May have called himself Robert
  • Driving brown, 4-door vehicle that looks like squad car

Police remind citizens that no agency will visit you or call you and demand immediate payment of taxes. They will not ask you to pay by money order or gift cards.  They will not threaten police action.

The IRS typically notifies people of tax issues by mail.

Do not give out personal information like social security numbers and credit card numbers to people you suspect are scammers.

If you have any information about this scammer or any other scams, call police at (920) 832-5500.