This is the season for tax scams, and some of Iowa’s newer residents are apparently being targeted. John Wilken with the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services says they’ve been warned of a scam that targets Bhutanese refugees.
Wilken says the person calls and says he is with the I.R.S. and then asks the individuals to give him money. He says there are some 430 Bhutanese refugees who have resettled in Iowa, with most living in the Des Moines area.
“It’s not clear exactly why this particular group has been targeted, this is the second alert we’ve received in the last six months. But for whatever reason there is some entity out there, maybe several, that have determined that these are easy prey,” Wilken says. He says the person claiming to be the I.R.S. agent claims they will give the person up to $10,000 if they send them $650.
Wilken says the Bhutanese have come to Iowa over the last three years. He says they were originally from Nepal, moved to Bhutan many years ago, and then the conditions they lived under worsened in Bhutan. Wilken says they fled back to Nepal, but Nepal did not recognize them as citizens, so they have been in refugee camps.
There were about 116,000 of them when the U.S. started taking them in. Wilken says the warning tells anyone who hears of this type of scam to not send any money, and to contact police. The I.R.S. says they do not demand processing fees, security deposits, or overseas wire transfers from grant recipients or refugees.
Wilken says he has not heard of any of the Bhutanese in Iowa that have been a victim of the scam.