Scam Steals Thousands from Bosnian Immigrants

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

CORALVILLE, Iowa – Bosnian immigrants Nermina Bajric and her husband Hasan feel cheated. Over two days a scammer took $6,600 dollars from them.

"How does it make me feel? Crazy," said Nermina.

It all started Tuesday. Nermina took a phone call from a man claiming to work for the Internal Revenue Service. The scammer said the couple owed thousands to the federal government. If they didn't pay immediately, the man threatened the two would go to jail and be deported.

"I was so scared. The biggest problem was I couldn't tell anybody," said Nermina.

Out of fear, Nermina agreed to get the money, but had little available. The scammer told her to borrow it, while he listened in from her cellphone.

"I went to the bank. They told me to cry in the bank and say that my mom is dying," said Nermina.

Nermina scraped together $4,500 from the bank and a friend, but the scammer said it wasn't enough. The next day she borrowed $2,100 more. Nermina was told to load money on prepay debit cards, and read the code on the back over the phone.

Nermina said she realized it was all a lie after talking to her boss at work, who said that's not how the IRS operates.

"I've never heard of anything as sophisticated," said Bill Nicholson, the couple's attorney.

Nicholson said the police have been notified of the scam and are investigating. He doubted they would be able to get any money back. He said the scammers knew what they were doing.

"They knew and had researched the background of these people. They knew that they were naturalized citizens and preyed on that fact," said Nicholson.

Nermina and Hasan look to be left with a big debt that they'll most likely spend years repaying.

"Really bad. Very sad because the money I gave to them, I was planning to go back to see my mom," said Nermina.

The IRS first warned about this scam preying on immigrants in October. Officials said scammers often spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID. They said a big sign it's a lie-- the IRS never asks for credit card numbers over the phone, nor requests prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.
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