Winslow Police say residents are the apparent targets of a phone scam in which a caller claims to be calling from the Internal Revenue Service with a warrant for the arrest of taxpayers who owe back taxes.

Winslow Police Chief Shawn O’Leary said the department has received complaints about the practice over the phone and through Facebook messaging.

The man spoke with a heavy accent and used broken English, O’Leary said in a news release. The caller was impersonating a representative from the IRS, telling the people he called that they had outstanding tax debts and if they were not immediately paid, a warrant for their arrest would be issued.

“The public should be aware that the IRS does not make telephone calls warning individuals that if they fail to pay their debts an arrest warrant will be issued,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary said the complaints were made by elderly residents, and that may be because of the likelihood that they are more likely to have a landline telephone. In 2013, nearly 40 percent of American homes had no landline, up from less than 5 percent in 2003, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A lot of senior citizens have had the same phone number for many years,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary asks that anyone who receives such a call should “be very vigilant and refuse to give any personal or financial information over the telephone.”

O’Leary said only two people have made formal complaints to the department, but at least one other person wrote on the department’s Facebook page that she had received similar calls.

Winslow police are asking anyone who receives a similar call to report it to the department by calling 207-872-5215.

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