LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Two women are behind bars and facing criminal charges connected to an IRS scam that resulted in thousands of dollars being scammed from victims.
The suspects identified as Ailing Lu, 25 of Los Angeles and Ji Hyun Lee, 25, of Gardena.
Officials said the investigation began on September 4th, 2019 when a victim received a “cold call” from a scammer impersonating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The caller threatened to arrest the victim if he didn’t pay the caller in $2,200.00 of Target gift cards. Our unsuspecting victim complied and purchased the Target gift cards. The victim furnished the gift cards to the caller and later reported the incident to Fontana Police.
Fontana detectives tracked the redemption of the cards to a Target store in in the Los Angeles area. Detectives and Target’s Loss Prevention Team worked together to locate surveillance video of the transactions.
Target’s Loss Prevention Unit recalled a similar case where Indiana University Police were investigating a similar incident. Fontana detectives and Loss Prevention Agents compared the videos and determined the same female suspect conducted the transactions.
Detectives conducted surveillance on suspected locations and vehicles in the Los Angeles Area. Detectives stopped several vehicles during the surveillance and located items purchased with the gift cards.
Detectives served search warrants on two locations and located approximately $900,000.00 in new goods including electronics, gift cards and other items purchased with gift cards from unsuspecting victims, officials said.
“It’s apparent these suspects were well organized and preyed on the victims’ fear of arrest across our nation. We’re encouraging the public to contact their local law enforcement agency if they received a similar call from a scammer and followed though with the scammer’s request(s). As a reminder, no law enforcement or public agency will ever ask you to pay in gift cards. We encourage the public to be wary of any “cold call.” They should scrutinize the information given to them. Conduct their own research to find a legitimate contact for the organization the person is claiming to work for and verify it’s not a scam,” stated police.