ROCK HILL, S.C. - A Rock Hill woman charged in an IRS scam told Channel 9 the accusations were "fake news" when Action 9 reporter Jason Stoogenke confronted her about them outside a courthouse.
Prosecutors said E’Shellah Calhoun was part of a scheme where scammers pose as IRS officials, call people, demand money and then threaten to sue or arrest them if they don't pay.
A few months ago, a federal grand jury in Columbia, South Carolina indicted Calhoun.
She was in court last week and told the judge she's been cooperating with investigators. She said she has been helping them identify suspects in the alleged scheme and plans to plead guilty.
But once outside the courthouse and confronted by Stoogenke on the charges against her, Calhoun called it "fake news."
When pressed to explain which part was fake news, she said, "I know if I say anything y'all will put it in there as a lie also. I'm doing what I can but I just know what was put on the news was not true. I will prove it."
Investigators believe the con artists in IRS impostor cases are often overseas and out of reach. For example, last year police in India arrested 70 people allegedly behind the scheme.
So it's rare to see someone charged locally.
This year, 185 North Carolina and South Carolina residents have fallen victim to the IRS scam, losing a combined $123,000.
And those are just the cases that have been reported.
In fact, every few days someone calls or emails Action 9 about the scam -- more than any other con -- and it is the thickest file Stoogenke keeps.
Sherri Robinson told Action 9 that an IRS impostor left her niece a voicemail, but she has no way of knowing who called her or where that call came from.
Robinson, who does taxes for a living, said her niece didn't fall for the scam.
"I think it's the lowest of low,” Robinson told Action 9. “We all have opportunity in life. All you have to do is get out there and do it. There are jobs. Get a job and work. Quit trying to get over."
The real IRS will never call you, and it will never ask you to wire money, pay with prepaid debit cards or pay with iTunes or any other gift cards.
If you aren't sure, ask Stoogenke at Action9@wsoctv.com.
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