Dozens of people in central Maine are calling police and sheriff departments to report calls from fake Internal Revenue Service officials who tell them they owe money and must send it now or be sued or arrested.

It’s a scam, and people receiving such calls should report them to authorities, including the state attorney general’s office, according to police.

“We’ve gotten probably 12 to 14 calls in the last 24 hours on the same IRS scam,” Cpl. Ritchie Putnam, of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, said Saturday morning. “These people are receiving calls. It’s an automated voice telling you to call a number, that you owe the IRS money and you have to send it or the IRS is going to file suit against you.”

Putnam said those receiving calls should not send any money or provide personal information. Instead, they should call police or the sheriff’s department and report the call.

“We’d like to be aware of it, and they might have information that others might not have, and we’ll be able to continue our investigation,” he said.

The scam appears to part of a widespread series of calls reported in Maine this week. The Office of the Maine Attorney General said Friday scam phone calls were reported by more than 100 people in the state that day and 61 were reported Thursday.

There appear to be at least two types of calls — one from a live person and another taped. There were no reports of people falling for the scam.

“These are often randomly dialed calls, but for some reason the 207 area code seems to be their target in recent weeks,” Attorney General Janet Mills said Friday.

Putnam said his department will be in touch with the attorney general’s office about the scam. He said officials have tried to call the phone numbers the scammers are asking people to call, and it rings about 20 times and then disconnects.

“Nobody actually answers on the other end,” he said.

From 9:39 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, the Somerset County Communications Center received 24 calls from residents of Madison, Skowhegan, Pittsfield, Canaan, Cornville and Fairfield reporting scam calls.

Waterville police and Franklin County sheriff’s dispatchers reported they have been receiving calls for weeks from people reporting the scam.

Franklin County sheriff’s dispatchers recommend people report the scam to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office at 855-303-9470; Waterville police have been advising callers to report the scam to the state attorney general’s office at 800-436-2131.

Putnam, in Somerset County, said callers reporting the scam are frustrated and some have received as many as three calls.

“Obviously, our concern is for the elderly people that might not realize this is a scam and they think they’ve done something wrong and try to correct it by sending money,” Putnam said.

A posting on the attorney general’s website says fake IRS agents usually have a “heavy foreign accent” and may try to scare people into thinking they owe back taxes or there is a problem with a tax return.

“If you disagree, they typically become belligerent,” the AG’s office statement says. “The real IRS won’t initiate contact by phone or email. Instead, they’ll start with a postal letter. Hang up the phone. If you think you owe money to the IRS, contact a number you know to be correct or through”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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