IRS fraud two women arrested, collect almost $1 million in goods through IRS.
Two women who Fontana police say netted almost $1 million in merchandise from pulling off a well-known, nationwide scam were arrested Thursday, Sept. 19.
Ailing Lu, of Los Angeles, and Ji Hyun Lee, of Gardena, both 25, were apprehended at an apartment complex on Ardmore Avenue in Los Angeles, according to San Bernardino County jail records. Ailing was arrested on suspicion of theft by false pretenses and conspiracy; Lee was accused on suspicion of conspiracy. They both posted bail and were released Friday.
The investigation began Sept. 4 when a man received a call from someone impersonating an IRS employee. He was told he would be arrested if he didn’t pay the caller with $2,200 worth of Target gift cards. Scammers typically ask the victim to purchase a gift card or reloadable debit card and read off the serial number.
In this case, the victim complied, but he later called police.
“It’s apparent these suspects were well organized and preyed on the victims’ fear of arrest,” Fontana police said in a news release.
The cards were redeemed at a Target in the Los Angeles area. Detectives examining surveillance video determined that the same woman who used the cards in the Fontana case also redeemed cards in an investigation by Indiana University police, the release said.
Detectives doing stakeouts stopped several vehicles and recovered items purchased with gift cards. Search warrants served at two locations turned up about $900,000 worth of electronics, gift cards and other items purchased with gift cards supplied by victims. Detectives believe there are more victims.
Police reminded the public that no law enforcement or public agency such as a utility will demand payment through gift or reloadable debit cards. Anyone who receives such a call should look up the agency’s phone number — and not use the number supplied by the caller — to verify the authenticity of the request for money.