9:38am on Friday, the phone rings with a call from Tulsa, OK. I’m not sure I know anyone in Tulsa so I let it go to voicemail. Odd, they actually left a message. Give it a listen:
You’ll notice that it’s a computer generated voice. That was the first sign this was suspicious. And the first words “IRS is filing lawsuit against you.” Not a lawsuit, just filing lawsuit. Not the best english. I’m convinced it’s a scam.
Later that day, I’m with my team at RSM (see my note about joining RSM last week). We decide to call the scammer to find out their tactics. I assume being an IRS scam that they’ll ask for my Social Security Number. So I quickly go to a fake social security number generator and create a fake number. I also decide that I’ll be Dave Smith.
I call. They ask me my name. Then address. But I only say the street, not the city or zip and they move on to the scam. The entire 10 minute conversation is below.
Listen for a few things. 1) it’s noisy. Are they using a background noise generator or is this actually a busy call center taking fake IRS calls? 2) it’s very scripted. You’ll hear different people repeat the same phrases multiple times.
Give it a listen:
Any idea why they hung up on me? Was I too agreeable?
When I dialed the number, I assumed it was a phishing scam but it’s actually a wire transfer scam. It’s hard to believe that anyone would fall for it given some telltale signs that it’s fake. “We’ll send an officer to your door.” I can also imagine that if one person each month sends $4600, they’ve probably struck gold.
I can’t imagine anyone falling for this scam, but they do. In fact, according to the IRS (via CNBC) there are 3,000 victims who have collectively paid more than $14 million as a result of scams.
If you get a call like this, report it to the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Full transcript of the call:
Jay:I got some voicemail that there’s a problem.Operator 1:Okay, you said you had a vociemail from IRS. Correct?Jay:Correct.Operator 1:Okay. This is from Tennessee IRS from Internal Revenue Service. Before I move forward, can you please verify me your first name, last name?Jay:Sure. Dave, D-A-V-E Smith, S-M … Sorry.Operator 1:Last name?Jay:S-M-I-T-H.Operator 1:Okay, S-M-I-T-H, right?Speaker 2:Ask him for his agent ID.Jay:S-M-I-T-H. Correct.Operator 1:Okay. D-A-D-E. How do you spell your name?Jay:D-A-V-E. Last name S …Operator 1:Okay. What is your address?Jay:127 South Marion, M-A-R-I-O-N.Operator 1:Okay. 127 South Marion. [inaudible 00:01:26]Jay:Sorry, what was that?Operator 1:[inaudible 00:01:31] how to explain it to you, your case in details?Jay:Sure, that would be great. Are you looking it up, or what?Operator 1:Sorry?Jay:Are you looking it up?Operator 1:No, I’ve got it. Okay, if you’ll hold on, I’m talking to my officer. Okay, hold one second, here is my officer.Operator 2:Hello?Jay:Hello?Operator 2:How can I help you sir?Jay:I just gave all of my information to somebody else.Operator 2:Man, who am I talking to right now? Sir?Jay:My name is Dave.Operator 2:Sorry?Jay:My name is David.Operator 2:David. Okay. So, Mr. David, do you know the reason why you’re receiving a call from the IRS?Jay:I do not, that is why I’m calling in today.Operator 2:All right. I will explain everything to you but before moving to the case, I would also like to notify you that these lines are heavily regarded and monitored by IRS. Okay?Jay:Does this mean we’re recorded?Operator 2:Yeah. That’s right.Jay:So, we’re recording this phone call.Operator 2:Oh, yeah.Jay:Okay. Thank you.Operator 2:Well, the IRS audit department has audited your tax file for five years from 2009 to 2014. Okay?Jay:Okay.Operator 2:We found out that there are some miscalculation errors on your tax files. Calling the extension 7201, the liable taxes are still pending. Which means you are not paying your taxes in current amount. Okay?Jay:Okay.Operator 2:You still owe some amount to the IRS. Okay?Jay:Okay. Do you know how much I owe?Operator 2:Yes sir. It’s $4,600.00, okay? Now, at this time, the IRS has decided to recover the amount involving [inaudible 00:04:13] C6331 against you. So, I just want to know sir, do you have any …Speaker 2:Try to negotiate with him.Operator 2:to resolve the matter with IRS? Or, do you want to take your changes at a courthouse for this outstanding tax. Sir, what do you want to do?Jay:I guess I just don’t understand why I owe this money.Operator 2:Okay. Let me explain you once more. Okay?Jay:Thank you.Operator 2:Okay. The audit department has audited your tax files for the five years term, that is from 2009 to 2014. All right?Jay:Correct.Operator 2:During those years, you are not filing your taxes in the correct amount. It’s not that you’re not filing your taxes. I’m not saying that. Okay? You’re filing your taxes but you’re not filing your taxes in a proper amount or in a correct amount. That is the reason there is some discrepancy amount of $4,600 still pending under your name. That’s the reason we call you to get to know your intention that … Do you want to resolve this matter with IRS? Or, you want to simply take your chances at a courthouse for this outstanding amount. Sir, what do you want to do Sir?Jay:I want to resolve the amount. So, where do I get the detail as to the amount of taxes I paid and what the issues are?Operator 2:Okay. Sir, if you want to resolve this matter with the IRS, we will surely help you out. That’s why we called you. Okay? All right. After you’ve done away with the resolvement, we will surly send you a documentation regarding this tax file. In fact, we will send you an officer at your doorstep. Okay? At your doorstep with your satisfied document explaining all this about. Okay?Jay:Okay.Operator 2:If you want to resolve this matter with IRS you have to follow some standard legal procedure provided from the IRS headquarters. Okay?Jay:Okay.Operator 2:I just want to know if you want to resolve this matter with the IRS, do you have this amount, $4,600Jay:Do I have that …Operator 2:Yeah.Jay:How would I even pay it?Operator 2:Sir, I will explain to you step by steps. Do you have this much amount? Is it yes or no sir?Jay:I mean I guess that’s where I’m confused. On a credit card, I could put it on a credit card. I guess that’s my question. How do I pay? What are you looking for?Operator 2:Sir, I will explain it to you step by step. Because, right now, your name is on red flag by the United States of [inaudible 00:06:55]. Okay? That’s why we are not accepting you payment through checks or credit card. You have to follow some standard legal procedure. That’s what I’m saying. Do you have this much amount?Jay:Oh.Operator 2:Is it yes or no sir?Jay:Yes, I have this much amount.Operator 2:How do you have this amount sir, either cash or in your bank account?Jay:In my bank account. Do people really have that much in cash?Operator 2:No sir. I was just asking. Now, I’m going to transfer this line to one of my account department who will help you resolve this matter. Okay?Jay:Okay. Thank you.Operator 2:You’re welcome sir.Speaker 2:I’m trying to identify the accent but I can’t.Speaker 3:It seems Indian.Jay:Indian but with a hint of British too.Operator 3:It’s not exactly ideal.Jay:Listen to the amount of people. Do you hear the amount of people?Operator 3:Thanks for holding the line. Your call is transferred to the [inaudible 00:07:54] department. I’m hearing that there’s an officer of the IRS. Hello?Jay:Hello.Operator 3:Yes, how are you doing today?Jay:I’m … Well, I’ve been better.Operator 3:Mr. Smith, let me just tell you that first of all, you already had a word with the officer. I just want to know your intention whether you want to resolve this case or you want to take a chance at the courthouse?Jay:I’d like to resolve this case.Operator 3:All right. To resolve this case, what you need to do, you have to follow some standard legal procedure. All right? [inaudible 00:08:31].Jay:I’m sorry. I lost you. What did you say?Operator 3:What you need to do, all right, first of all, [inaudible 00:08:37]. First of all, all right, if you want to resolve this case, you need to follow some standard legal procedure. All right? [inaudible 00:08:44] the line.Jay:Okay.Operator 3:First of all, you need to have this amount in your account. Right? What you need to do, you need to go to the bank and withdraw this amount in cash. Once you have this amount in cash, then you you have to follow some standard legal procedure over the phone line. All right?Jay:Okay. I need to go to the bank to get the cash out. Then, what do I do with that?Operator 3:Once you have this money in cash. I will be providing you with US Treasury account so you can send these fees to the US Treasury Department in [inaudible 00:09:26].Jay:Okay. I mail it? What do I do? I go to a building?Operator 3:You don’t have to go to the building. All right? I’ll guide you what you need to do. Just tell me, do you want to follow the procedure or not?Jay:Yes. I would like to follow … Whatever I can do to get this resolved.Operator 3:To get this resolved, you need to go to the bank and order the money in cash, first of all.Jay:Okay. Then what do I do with it.Operator 3:Then, what you need to do, I’ll give you the Treasury Department account details. You can submit the fees and follow the procedure. All right?Jay:Okay. I need to write a number down? And, she hung up.