SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO - An alert grocery store clerk helped foil a phone scam by stopping a woman before she handed over thousands of dollars to a IRS fake agent, police said Saturday.

According to South San Francisco police, several residents have fallen victim to the phone scam in which someone posing as an IRS agent contacts victims and tells them they owe the agency large sums of money. Scammers threaten the victims with arrest if they don't make immediate payments.

On Tuesday afternoon, a South San Francisco resident was told that to avoid arrest, she was to make an immediate payment of $3,800 using a pre-loaded debit card.

When the victim went to the Safeway store located at 30 Chestnut Ave. to purchase the debit card, police said a store clerk overheard the victim's cell phone conversation and recognized she was being victimized by the scam.

The clerk intervened and stopped the victim from providing access to her pin number, thereby foiling the fake agent's attempt to collect funds without being detected.

Police are asking anyone who believes they have been the victims of this type of scam to contact them at (650) 877-8900.



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