The government is not offering cash rebates for those who paid property taxes early and scammers do not discriminate — even when they’re trying to pull a fast one on the county tax office.

The latter became evident Tuesday morning, when Umatilla County tax assessor Paul Chalmers was contacted by an individual claiming to be from Pennsylvania. When  Chalmers received the message and called the number back, a man with a Middle Eastern accent named “Chris Jones” told him he owned money for legal fees from a website, CashNetUSA.

“Basically, they said I owed them $490 and some change, but if I paid them today with Western Union, I would only have to pay $370,” Chalmers said. “He even mentioned verifying that I was a legitimate American citizen, asking if he could get my Social Security number to verify that.”

Chalmers contacted the FBI to report the call and learned it is a common type of scam. is a legitimate payday loan business, and the company has become aware of the scam and offers tips to recognize fake callers.

“Our in-house collectors follow strict policies and procedures, industry best practices, and comply with the law. These fraudulent collectors do not,” the website states. The company also notes that people should be suspicious if:

• They have never received a cash advance from the company.

• They have received a loan but paid it back in full.

• The caller threatens violence or uses foul language.

• The caller threatens arrest.

•The caller is unable to provide loan agreement information or payment history when you ask for it.

The website also said people who have reported the scam said the callers had a strong Indian, Asian or Middle Eastern accent, poor English-speaking skills and attempt to show legitimacy by reading their bank account number, Social Security number or date of birth.

His own case isn’t the only scam Chalmers is aware of. Through his position, he has also come in contact with a scam based in property taxes. Scammers will contact an individual and say because they paid property taxes early or on time, they could be eligible for a federal rebate program. All they have to do is send $99 and some personal information (to verify the claim) to a Western Union number.

“There is absolutely no government tax program I’m aware of that offers any rebate based on the fact that people paid their taxes timely,” Chalmers said. “People ought to be aware if someone is asking you to send personal information or money with Western Union, it’s probably a scam.”

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