by Una Sinnott
Cllr Aengus O'Rourke is warning people not to fall for a bogus caller claiming to be a Revenue officer. The Athlone-based councillor received a call asking for his credit card details for a tax refund, and is warning others of the scam after confronting the caller on Monday.
According to Cllr O'Rourke, who contacted the Advertiser this week to warn of the scam after receiving a call from the perpetrators himself, he has heard from a number people who handed over details believing they were receiving a tax refund from Revenue, only to have money stolen from their accounts instead.
"I spoke to Revenue officials locally and they confirmed that they had a number of calls from the public about this matter," he added. "Revenue has become aware of a number of individuals who received phone calls from a person purporting to work in Revenue and demanding the immediate payment of a tax bill or stating that a criminal case is being taken against the individual, or that they had a rebate for the person and demanded their credit card number."
The Athlone-based councillor received a call on Monday, purporting to be from Revenue and asking for his credit card details.
"The call came from a Dublin number, the caller said his name was Tom and he was from Revenue and he just needed my credit card number in order to transfer a tax rebate of €740 to my account," Cllr O'Rourke revealed.
“He said the quickest way to do this was to lodge it to my Visa account and he asked for my card details. He sounded very believable and professional. I asked him to send me an email first detailing the basis for the tax refund. He said he would send me an email confirming the transaction once I had given him my card details.
“Knowing that this was a scam, I told ‘Tom’ that I was recording the conversation and that I would be informing the gardai of his phone number which was (01 ) 4428983. He hung up immediately.
“I always go by the old saying ‘If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is,” he added.
Cllr O’Rourke said he had been contacted by a number of people in the area who had lost money to similar bogus callers in recent weeks, and was warning others to be on their guard and avoid falling for the same scam.
“If you receive a telephone call purporting to be from Revenue about which you have any doubts, particularly if the call is unexpected, you should contact your local Revenue Office on 1890 20 30 70 or 01 738 36 63,” he advised.
“Anyone who mistakenly provides personal information in response to these types of fraudulent phone calls should contact their bank or credit card company immediately, and also alert the local gardaí.
“It is at this time of the year that we tend to see unscrupulous individuals emerge from the undergrowth with tricks and scams in an attempt to dupe people whether by email or phone. My advice to people is to never, ever, give your bank account details or your credit card details to anyone calling you or emailing you that you do not know.
“Please also be aware of those collecting cash outside shopping centres or banks and busy areas in town, unless they have three things I would suggest people do not part with money — official signage or branding, a clearly visible photo identity badge with a recognised charity name on it, and a permit to collect, all collectors must have this.”