My recent telephone conversation with two scammers scared me spitless.
I can now understand how some people, especially the elderly, fall prey to the intimidation tactics of con artists.
I’d received a voice-mail message saying the call was my final notice to contact the IRS regarding a serious tax problem.
I’d just filed my taxes. It made me nervous. I returned the call.
The first man identified himself as an IRS agent. He gave me his name and badge number. I grabbed my pen and notebook and started taking notes. In a fast, loud and intimidating voice, he told me the IRS had filed a lawsuit against me for income tax evasion for the 2007 to 2014 tax years.
He said I’d been targeted in a random audit. And I owe $5,686 for underpayment of taxes.
He asked if I had made miscalculations or had tried to cheat the government. I told him I don’t cheat on my taxes. There had to be a big mistake.
I asked if he could notify me in writing. He said it was too late.
I asked if I could go to my local IRS office to discuss it. He said no, not at this time. And he told me to quit interrupting him.
He asked if I planned to get an attorney or what my intentions were.
I played along and said I didn’t know what to do. He offered to transfer me to a U.S. Treasury agent.
That man was even more intimidating. He rattled off legal terms, a federal statute and the penalties for conviction. Prison, a $75,000 fine. And, oh, I’d lose my driver’s license, too.
He asked if I planned to get an attorney.
I told him I just didn’t know what to do. He said they could work out a deal. Could I go to my bank and withdraw the money? And take it to a local IRS office?
I told him no.
He gave me a closing spiel about how I will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“After I hang up,” he said, “I’m calling your local sheriff’s office for a warrant for your arrest. God bless you.”
I didn’t “God bless” him back. I hung up.
I saw clues of a scam early on and played along, but a part of me was afraid. Very afraid. I don’t scare easily.
I’ve always heard the IRS contacts you in writing if there’s a problem. True that.
Also, the IRS will never ask you to withdraw a load of cash from your bank and take it somewhere.
And both men spoke with foreign-sounding accents. They didn’t speak English well and stumbled over some of the legal words they spouted off in authoritative voices.
I didn’t fall for their tactics.
But to be on the safe side, I advised my boss. What if I were to be arrested?
And I left a message for an attorney and a federal agent. The latter assured me it was a scam. He told me to go online to irs.gov and file a complaint. I did and included the telephone number used, the names given, all the dirty details.
So who’s the sucker now, con men?