A Benton resident was scammed by someone who called and demanded that the call recipient pay $1,000 in iTunes gift cards to avoid being arrested for nonpayment of taxes, Kennebec County Sheriff Ryan Reardon said Tuesday.

“Unfortunately this is a scam that has been attempted several times,” Reardon said in a news release. He said if the scam perpetrators were caught, they would be charged with theft by deception.

Reardon said the caller told the female victim he was a deputy sheriff and that there was a warrant out on the woman — whom Reardon didn’t identify — for not paying taxes. The caller told the woman to call a number provided to resolve the situation. When the victim called the number, she was told to go to the nearest Family Dollar or CVS store and get $1,000 worth of iTunes gift cards. The victim was to call back with the gift card numbers.

Once the Benton resident did that, the scammer pressured her to provide more money, Reardon said. The victim refused because she did not have the money; and after asking a few questions, she realized it was a scam and contacted police.

Reardon said the sheriff’s office would not ask for money in the form of an iTunes gift card “or other similar ways.”

“Law enforcement does not barter away arrest warrants,” he said. “A warrant is an order from a judge or court to take into custody a person after satisfying probable cause that a crime was committed.”


Reardon said people shouldn’t comply “with any request such as this that originates over the phone.” He said if someone was arrested on a warrant “in most cases, law enforcement will be there in person to take the person into custody.”

In Benton, as in most of the state’s municipalities, failure to pay local property taxes results in a lien on the property.

If people have not paid federal or state taxes, they will be contacted by the Internal Revenue Service or Maine Revenue Services, both sites say on their websites. The IRS goes through a long administrative process before referring a delinquent taxpayer for criminal prosecution, according to tax.findlaw.com.

“Because the United States tax system is based on taxpayers willingly honoring their obligations, the IRS does what it can to encourage nonfilers to voluntarily come forward after a period of not paying taxes,” the website says. “Part of this strategy includes taking a voluntary disclosure into consideration when determining whether to criminally prosecute, negotiating payment installment plans, and reducing tax liability for certain needy individuals.”

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