(CBS) — It’s a new twist to the old IRS scam, a new one even to the IRS.
A local businessman fell for it, then surprisingly tracked down a good chunk of his cash.
CBS 2’s Dave Savini looks at where the money is and why it has not been returned.
Richard Cogan paid scammers a total of $12,000 and has been trying to get some of it back.
“Seven-thousand dollars — to the penny,” Cogan says of money he found still sitting in a Wells Fargo bank account.
The scam started with a caller claiming to be an Internal Revenue Service agent investigating a stock purchase made by Cogan.
Cogan says the caller told him it was an “illegal investment.”
Then came an e-mail threat, including a multi-page document supposedly from the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC), which also claimed his online stock purchase violated the law.
Cogan says the communication said the company was not registered in this country and that made the transaction illegal.
The SEC’s David Glockner says the document sent to Cogan is fake.
“We don’t just call somebody out of the blue and demand money,” he says. “We make contact with people typically through the U.S. Postal Service.”
Glockner also says the IRS does not make calls on behalf of the SEC.
Cogan says the scammers threatened him with prison and a $78,000 fine. Because he had actually just bought stock, Cogan thought the threat was real.
“Of course I got extremely nervous and scared,” he says.
Cogan says he is not sure how the con artist knew about his investment.
James Robnett with the IRS explains how this scam is different:
“They used a stock purchase by this victim to sort of authenticate the call, make them sound like they are a real IRS employee.”
Robnett says the IRS will never demand money by the end of the day. “The IRS doesn’t do business that way.”
Cogan was told to deposit $5,000 into a Bank of America account. It turns out the account belongs to another likely victim in New York, whose account was used to funnel money.
He also was told to deposit $7,000 into a Wells Fargo account, but then went to police in time to have those funds frozen.
“They’ve got the money,” Cogan says. “It’s frozen, the police can’t touch it.”
The Morton Grove Police report says Wells Fargo will not release the money until the account holder agrees to it.
Cogan says the account holder has not agreed to return his money.
“I am victimized a second time because they’re holding my money and they won’t give it back to me,” he says.
This IRS scam also is different because it involved real bank accounts and not wired money.
Wells Fargo says they do what they can to help scam victims while also following laws about questionable funds.
“Wells Fargo always cooperates with law enforcement regarding criminal investigations involving potential scams. We do whatever we can to assist anyone who falls victim to a scam, while also abiding by laws that determine what happens to the funds in question. We are unable to comment on a specific police investigation or our role in it, or provide information on any customer situation.”