SAN DIEGO - A City Heights family said it was duped by an elaborate scam even though there was one big warning sign.
Lina Ghitman got a phone message on her iPhone from a robotic-sounding voice. It said she owed more than $1,000 in back taxes and could be imprisoned if she didn't take immediate action.
The call sounded legitimate even though Ghitman said she pays her taxes diligently every year.
Ghitman's husband called the number back and took the bait. After he left to find the money, the man on the other end of the call said the Ghitmans could pay the $1,279.30 with iTunes gift cards.
Ghitman's husband purchased the cards and read their numbers to the crooks before his family could tell him that was a scam.
"Right now, he just feels like he's been used," said Lina Ghitman. "I feel raped. I feel like somebody violated my money."
The Ghitmans tried canceling the cards, but it was too late. They reported the scam to the authorities.
An expert said the Internal Revenue Service would never call, adding the IRS would send an official notice in the mail first.
After the mailed notice, the IRS would then send a credentialed agent to the residence.