A homeowner fending of the common “IRS bill” scam has discovered that the fraudsters have acquired a willingness to take the fight to a whole, new, and potentially lethal, level.
By “swatting” their intended victim.
Swatting is when someone calls in false reports to police departments or others alleging there is violence happening, or looming, at a particular location or with a particular individual.
But that individual knows nothing about it, and the first inkling of trouble often is when the victim sees an army of officers pointing guns and him or her.
That’s the scenario that developed in Colorado Springs, Colorado, according to a report from KKTV.
There, it was scammers trying to steal money from a family with the old fraud that claims the family owes the IRS money and has to pay up immediately or be in really serious trouble.
The scam failed, the report said.
“I got a scam phone call … saying I owed back taxes,” Jim Davis told the station. “And, of course, it scared me, so I decided to go along with it … he said it was ‘Officer David Brown’ [with the IRS], gave me his badge number, and he told me to go to the bank and get the money so I could pay my back taxes from 2009 to 2013. When I got to the bank, I talked to Shannon, the manager at the bank, and she told me she heard there was a scam going around for IRS tax evasion.”
The manager called the number herself, and was given the same spiel, Davis said.
So Davis made no payment.
The result was more calls.
“They kept telling me if I didn’t pay the money … a police officer was going to come arrest me within 15 minutes and take me away to jail for three to five years,” he told KKTV.
“But suddenly the call took a frightening real-world turn,” the station reported.
The scammers started calling 9-1-1.
“They put in a call that I was harming people, and that I wanted to kill cops,” Davis said.
The scammers even claimed to be Davis.
The result was the typical result of “swatting.”
“Police swarmed Davis’ home on Windy Oaks Road, near Northgate and Highway 83 on the north side of Colorado Springs. Davis said later there were 12 police cars surrounding his house – with his 20-year-old daughter Amber now the only one at home,” KKTF reported.
For a while, Amber didn’t know whether the calls were from real police, or the scammers.
Her father raced home from his office, and she came outside, and eventually the “guys with shields and guns” stood down.
Jim Davis said, “I lost trust, unfortunately, in the police department, because they were telling me they were outside the house wanting to get in the house, and I knew my daughter was home alone. I didn’t know who was calling me because I had all these fake phone calls happening from six different numbers … so when the police officer contacted me on my cell phone … it said it was from an unavailable number so I thought it was a scam again.”
Colorado Springs police say they now are investigating where the calls originated, and they are calling in the FBI to assist because they appeared to not be local.
See the report:
WND reported some months ago when an anti-gun organization, Stop Gun Violence, was being accused of taking “swatting” to dangerous levels by advocating calls to law enforcement any time someone is seen legally armed in public, according to a gun-rights organization.
“They are inciting their radical base to turn their own neighbors in,” Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America told Fox News at the time about the controversy that has developed in Ohio regarding citizens who have permits to open carry firearms.
There, Buckeye Firearms exposed a call by Stop Gun Violence encouraging members to call police when they see anyone armed – even if legally.
“If you see someone carrying a firearm in public – openly or concealed – and have ANY doubts about their intent, call 911 immediately and ask police to come to the scene. Never put your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, at the mercy of weak gun laws that arm individuals in public with little or no criminal and/or mental health screening,” the statement said.
Wrote Chad Baus at Buckeye Firearms: “The practice is called ‘SWATting,’ and it even has it’s own Wikipedia entry: ‘Swatting is the act of tricking an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing an emergency services dispatcher) into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident. The term derives from SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), a highly militarized type of police unit in the United States carrying equipment such as door breaching equipment and powerful firearms.'”
WND reported in 2014 when one such incident turned fatal.
That was when John Crawford III was gunned down in a Beavercreek, Ohio, store after being swatted by a caller who claimed Crawford was loading and pointing an assault rifle at customers in Walmart.
Actually, Crawford was merely holding a BB gun that the store sells. But Crawford died when officers fired on him, and another shopper suffered a heart attack and died after the police opened fire.
Pratt told Fox News: “It’s one thing if someone is using a gun in an illegal or unlawful manner. No one is questioning that. But this clearly sounds like swatting.”
WND reported “swatting” started with Internet gamers who would hide behind online personas and report that their gaming opponent had a gun or had taken hostages.
The response often is a full-scale SWAT team at the location, with guns drawn and military vehicles at the ready. It’s even happened to actor Clint Eastwood.
On the Facebook page of Moms Demand Action, a group that tries to push retailers into public statements of opposition to guns, a Jennifer Decker wrote, “Every time I see someone with a gun in a store I will call 911 … because I feel threatened, they’ll get tired of that right quick!!!”
The NBC affiliate in Philadelphia reported on one case in which 30 police officers surrounded a South Jersey house, surprising Rob Richards, who was playing video games with friends.
The occupants of the home were forced outside at gunpoint by police understandably concerned by the telephone call they had received that said: “My mom and dad got into an argument and it got physical. I took the gun and I shot my dad. I want to kill her and kill myself. I don’t want to be alive anymore.”
“Please don’t have them shoot me! I’m really scared!” she said.
Officers explained: “We got a call there was a man inside the residence at your house and that he had killed his wife and was getting ready to kill his children.”
In Nebraska, the state patrol launched a tactical response in Sarpy County at a home where family members were inside sleeping.
Lt. Kevin Griger pointed out the danger.
“Somebody’s in his own home, he hears the front door crash in, he grabs his personal weapon, goes to the front door, the SWAT team’s coming in, he doesn’t know that because he doesn’t anticipate any problems, you know, and a firefight en[sues] in the home and somebody gets hurt because of that.”