The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to warn residents about a statewide telephone scam in which the caller says he’s from the Internal Revenue Service and tells recipients they must pay money they owe over the phone or face arrest.

“It is absolutely a scam and for whatever reason this area in Somerset County is getting targeted pretty heavily right now,” Chief Deputy James Ross said. On Thursday and Friday, the sheriff’s office received a total of more than 20 reports of phone scams, many of them in Fairfield, according to police dispatch logs.

In February, the Maine attorney general’s office reported a spike in the number of incidents of a scam that purports to be the Internal Revenue Service calling to demand payment. The calls involve either a live person or an automated voice telling call recipients that they owe taxes and the IRS will sue them, have them deported, take away their driver’s licenses or shut down their business if they don’t pay the taxes immediately over the phone with a credit card.

Ross said the calls are a scam and that anyone who receives them should just hang up.

He said he thinks the calls are being made by someone outside of Maine and that he did not know of anyone in the area who has lost any money through the scam.

In addition, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office also recently dealt with a scam complaint in which the victim was told that someone the victim knows was stranded in Africa and was unable to get a credit card to work.

“They’re getting more creative,” Ross said. “They’re actually linking names together. This was definitely a hoax, but (the scammer) had the name of a person that the victim actually does correspond with, so people have to be vigilant and ever on their toes.”

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