Friday, April 17, 2015

Don't Fall For This Scheme

This is the number he called from. I'm sure he uses several phony ones. 

John and I have had what seems like a zillion messages left on our answering machine that go something like this:

"This is an agent of the Internal Revenue Service. Please contact us immediately regarding your income tax fraud charges. You MUST call this number to avoid going to prison."

Oh, brother.

The voice is male and has some kind of accent.

"This is an extremely urgent matter. You will have serious consequences if you do not return this call! We will help you avoid going to jail."

Ah. Riiiiiiight. I'll just bet he's here to help me. He'd really like to help himself to a big chunk of OUR money. What a crook.

I'd ignore this obvious scam message if it was left once on our machine, but SIX? TEN times? The guy is relentless and with each message his message becomes more ominous and threatening. I call our local police department on their non-urgent number, describe the messages, and ask what to do. A woman sympathetically tells me that she is aware of several folks in our area receiving the same kind of telephone calls. Unfortunately, she says, schemes such as this one are almost impossible to persue but suggests that I visit this IRS website to learn more about this prevalent phone scam:
WASHINGTON — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain near the top of the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2015 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. 
The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.
"If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don't pay immediately, it's a scam artist calling,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business." 
The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so. This year for the first time, the IRS will issue the individual Dirty Dozen scams one at a time during the next 12 business days to raise consumer awareness. 
Phone scams top the list this year because it has been a persistent and pervasive problem for many taxpayers for many months. Scammers are able to alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. They often leave "urgent" callback requests. They prey on the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, newly arrived immigrants and those whose first language is not English. Scammers have been known to impersonate agents from IRS Criminal Investigation as well. 
“These criminals try to scare and shock you into providing personal financial information on the spot while you are off guard,” Koskinen said. “Don’t be taken in and don’t engage these people over the phone.” 
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards. Continue reading here.
While I felt this information was reassuring, and I was glad that I didn't fall for this scheme, still......being the weirdo that I am, felt a distinct need for retribution. I wanted to convey some kind of message to this extremely disgusting individual preying on unsuspecting and vulnerable targets.

So I called the criminal back on the number he provided. The conversation was one-sided, but I enjoyed it immensely. It went like this:

*ring ring ring ring ring* "Hello. This is the IRS......."

Me: Oh, no you're NOT. I'm calling to let you know that I know this is an illegal scam. I've reported you to the police and the IRS!


He hung up on me. The exchange was strangely rewarding. So I decided to do it again.

*ring ring ring ring ring* "Hello. This is the IRS......"

Me: Hey! It's me again, you CROOK. I've reported you to the police and the IRS and...


Hehehehehe. What fun. I wondered what would happen if I called yet again. 

*ring ring ring ring* "Hello. This is the IRS...."

Me: I think I'll just keep calling you to tie up one of your phone lines, you scammer!


I had plenty of time on my hands and nothing better to do. After another dozen calls - seriously, I had far, far too much fun harassing this bum - my calls were not answered but met with a click and then a dial tone.

I know that my paltry efforts to annoy this guy did absolutely nothing to deter him from continuing. After all, schemes like his have netted over $14 million dollars. Whew. But I hate the feeling that I'm being preyed upon, and to have the chance to tell this creep exactly what I think of him felt.....well, it felt really, really good.

So there.

If YOU get a threatening call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, don't buy into the scheme. 


Vicki said...

You go Girl!!! If everyone who got one of these calls did what you did that would put a good dent into these scum bags :-). Give them a taste of their own medicine. I love it Julia.

Amy Junod said...

It is kind of fun to mess with them.
"Here, talk to my kitty, Freckles, this nice man wants to help us."
"Are you calling about scheduling my mole removal? My son said someone would be calling."

We've had calls here too and they don't even make an effort to sound legit.
"Call us immediately or we will file lawsuit against you!"

I love that you tie up their phone lines.

Nan said...

Way to go, Julia. I get emails all the time from the "IRS", and I live in CANADA. The IRS or our Canadian version would never call or email with this type of communication. They will only send it by snail mail.

Such a terrible thing to do to the most vulnerable