The Casper Police Department warns of a nationwide scam in which purported representatives of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service tell local residents it has sued them.

"If they talk to you in person, they say, 'there is a lawsuit being filed against you, and if you do not pay this lawsuit, you will be arrested, and that law enforcement will be coming to pick you up,'" detective John Hatcher said Monday.

The scammer insists the victim use a pre-paid credit card, such as a Green Dot card, said Hatcher, the department's community crime prevention officer.

Most of the victims have been elderly, perhaps because younger potential victims know it's a scam and hang up, he said.

If the scammer doesn't talk to you directly, they leave a return telephone number which turns out be identified as a scam, Hatcher said.

The callers often have a heavy accent, which is probably Indian, Hatcher said.

The scam is nationwide, and has taken people for about $1 million, he said.

And because it is nationwide and involves a federal agency, local law enforcement cannot do anything other than to warn people, Hatcher said.

If, in fact, people have legitimate issues with the IRS, the IRS contacts them through the mails first, he said.

The IRS offers more information about these kinds of scams, Hatcher said.

He's had to deal with victims of this kind of crime, and he only has bad news to report, he added. "You're never going to see your money again."