Outside the Anne Arundel County Police headquarters, Maria Rezende, a nurse from Severna Park, answered a robo-call giving her a final chance to settle an old tax bill.
"He said, 'What's your name?' I told him my name and then he said, 'What is your Social Security number?' and at that point I'm already freaking out."
Maria says her caller ID suggested the call came from Los Angeles where she had once lived, and she feared her ex-husband may have claimed their child on his taxes, as she had, without telling her.
"I gave him my Social Security number and my date of birth and then he continued, and they are very aggressive," she said. "They are just like once they get your attention, they just don't stop and he said, 'We have a file against you since 2005. You own like $11,000, and if you don't pay right away, there will be a police (officer) to get you in an hour."6
The caller demanded a $3,000 payment, which he claimed would later be reimbursed, and he even read an affidavit outlining the grounds for her arrest.
Then came a new twist in what would prove to be an old scam.
"He said, ‘You're going to go in your car right now to Best Buy.’ I'm like, 'Why am I going to Best Buy for the IRS?' 'Ma’am, don't talk. Just do what I said. I'm the officer, and you have to cooperate.'"
Maria drove to this Best Buy in Annapolis with the fake IRS agent on her speaker phone.
"This is so scary. I felt like I was being kidnapped in a way. It was terrorizing, and he said, 'Go inside. You don't talk to anybody and you're going to buy six $500 iTunes', so I wrote down I-T-U-N-E-S. What does the IRS want with iTunes? 'Well, it's going to be a faster payment so you don't have to go to jail.'"
Maria followed the instruction and returned to her car where she scratched off to reveal the number on the back of the cards to complete the payment, unaware that the IRS had just issued a warning about the new scam demanding iTunes payments three days earlier.
"So I just went on, knowing that it's a fraud, but I could not get out of it and I want to speak to everybody that you can share to the whole world that it's happened and it's awful," she said.
The caller claimed he would need an additional $2,500 to remove the warrant for her arrest, but she told him her credit card was maxed out and she finally hung up.
She now needs a police report to qualify for seven years’ worth of identity theft protection fearful that the scam artists may sell her personal information to others seeking a profit at her expense.