How I Almost Got Scammed By The Fake IRS! How You Can Prevent It From Happening To You.

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I feel that this story is worth venting.  If only to bring awareness to anyone that may fall prey to this “fake IRS” scam.  I find myself able to spot scams pretty easily.  But I entertained this one a little longer than I should have.   About a week ago I did get a legit letter stating the IRS was reviewing my tax return.  I am not fraudulent on my taxes so I do not care if they review my return or not.  But when I received a call from an “IRS Tax Representative from the judgement department,” I did not think the call was off base.  I thought it was in response to the review that the IRS was doing on my taxes.  That is until the man on the other line told me there was a warrant out for my arrest for tax fraud.

Being the strong willed person I am, I began to argue immediately since I know I did not commit tax fraud.  I asked him what the status of my current refund was and why he could not take the amount owed from the refund I was owed.  I also requested that I be sent documentation of the fraud that I “supposedly” committed.  From there the “tax representative” told me that I could appeal and take out a suit against the government (which most people are not going to do anyway), go to a court house and risk having this on my record (another option that no one would take), or settle privately. 

To make a long story short, he said to settle privately that I would have to go to a local store, preferably Walmart and money gram the “IRS” $1800.  He told me not to tell anyone that I was speaking to him, not to put him on hold, not to put him on speaker, and not to hang up or the police would come and arrest me in 30 minutes!  Unless the IRS is into holding people hostage on the phone, this was a fake.

The IRS is interested in getting their money, not putting people in jail, especially for $1800.  At this point I was just curious to what the “tax representative” had to say.  I tried to get off the phone with him. I told him I had to call the babysitter which he did not care.  I  also told him I had to check my account to see if I had the money, I even told him I was on the highway driving and an hour and a half away from my house so I would need to call him back.

His behavior turned unprofessional, he told me that I needed to pull over and ask the next person I saw where the nearest Walmart was.  And then told me “I do not think you really want to do this or make this transaction happen.”  What IRS agent talks like that! He sounded more like a mob boss! Like this was some bad script of a movie where I was being taken hostage by a man on the phone.  I even told him I had spoken to the IRS a few days ago and that this information was not disclosed to me. He told me that I probably called the “local state IRS.”  By the way I have never heard of a “state IRS.”

He then of course threatened me with jail time.  Stating that the government was tracking my location now, and that I was going to be arrested.  But through this 30 minute conversation and my random questioning I was convinced that it was a scam.  I am still shocked that in the beginning I almost thought it was true! I do not think I would have ever driven to Walmart and sent a money gram to the IRS.  That does not even sound right!  But the threat of the warrant out on my arrest had me shook and confused.  I cannot go to jail! Once I calmed down, the call ultimately ended when I asked him to verify simple demographic information such as my address, social security number, or anything that proved he was who he said he was.  That is when he really went CRAZY! Threatening me with jail, the police, and job loss. This guy never gave up even after I could see it was a scam.  Talk about dedication to the job.  He then hung up the phone.  I googled the number and it was confirmed it was a scam.  I called the number back and it could no longer be reached.

It is sad to say that many people fall for this scam.  But it is clear that by asking simple questions and not just giving someone money, the scam can be prevented.  Here are some simple tips to remember if this happens to you:

  • The IRS does not call, unless you got a letter stating that they would call.
  • The IRS would notify you of back taxes in a letter.
  • The IRS will take your paycheck before they take you to jail.
  • The IRS would not tell you that the police is on their way to your home if you do not pay.
  • You would never money gram, western union, or transfer the IRS money.

Common denominators of a call like this.

  • The caller will say you have an arrest warrant.
  • They will not allow you to hang up the phone and try to get you to pay money right then and there, as they stay on the phone with you to make this payment.
  • They are often foreign due to them being based out of another country.
  • They will not know specific information about you. Such as birthday, social security number, address, refund amount, things that the IRS should know.
  • They are unprofessional and threaten you will jail, job loss, taking your licensed….anything to make you afraid.
  • They will not allow you to put them on speaker or tell anyone around you who you are talking to. They will tell you go keep the conversation private.
  • They will ask for your zip code to find a store that is closest to you, so you can wire the money.

What to do if you are not sure:

  • Hang up, call the real IRS number from the IRS website and ask them directly. That way you know who you are dealing with.
  • Give them test questions that they should know. This includes asking about the status of your current refund or what is the exact discrepancy on your taxes.
  • And just for kicks the number that called me was (646) 568-4373. So if you see this number.  It’s a scam.