IRS Phone Scams

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Today I got a call from the “IRS”:

Is very serious emergency and time sensitive. We are calling you from investigation team of IRS. We have just received a notification regarding your tax filings. From the headquarters which will get expired in next 24 working hours. And once it get expired after that you will be taken under custody by the local cops. As there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you. The number to reach us is 9174602172. I repeat 9174602172. Thank you.

I’ve written about scam calls before. This is a new variant for me but basically follows the same line. The caller tells you:

  • They are calling from something official-sounding
  • They say you have done something really serious and bad
  • They ask you to get back to them so you can prevent something bad happening to you (the ‘local cops’ for example)

Let me assure you, if you got this call It is a scam. If you’re actually worried about the IRS going after you please read the IRS website. They explicitly warn folks of this. If you want my general advice on these scams and don’t care about the details of this one - scroll to the bottom.

These People are Mean

What made this particular scam very nasty was not only did they know my number, they knew other information about me too. I recorded several conversations with the callers. They knew:

  • My name
  • My previous address
  • My mother, father, and sister’s names

When I said I would be reporting them to the FTC they proceeded to threaten to rape and kill my family by name. That’s a first for me.

They’re Getting Better and Scarier

This is more information than I’ve seen them have on me than ever before. With the same information they had on me imagine how they could either:

  1. Establish themselves as a credible government agency through some sort of “yes you’re Fernando Medina Corey with mother of name X and father of name Y? You also have a sister of name Z? Yes you owe taxes.” There are certainly people savvy enough to see through this. But there are also many people who are not.

  2. Alternatively, what if they just did something similar to what they did to me and start by threatening someone into giving them money by threatening their families? If someone called you and gave you the address of your mother/father and threatened them that could be a concerning type of scam too.

In addition to the amount of additional information they appear to have on the victim of these calls the operations also seem more sophisticated. After I had a few initial experiences speaking with someone they started filtering me out immediately. Additionally, after the particularly nasty call from the gentleman who threatened to kill, rape, maim etc. my family members I got a call from my phone number’s area code.

It turns out the scammers had spoofed my number and used it to scam other people. So they must have:

  • Called a victim using my phone number as the spoofed number
  • That victim then called me back on my number (which appeared in their caller ID)

I spoke to other victim and we chatted. I found out we had both been called by the same scammers and they had indeed spoofed my number to call the other victim. This is a newer tactic that I hadn’t seen before. I’m not sure if I was targeted because I pissed this scammer off or the system they were working with threw me into the “Let’s spoof this real number queue”.

The Unfortunate Reality of International Crime Enforcement and Scam Calls

In this technical age it is very easy to setup fake numbers. Even for free you could get Google Voice numbers, use Twilio or some other provider. Now I have no idea what specifically these folks are using, but these are examples of perfectly legitimate services that could serve as tools for the scammers.

Additionally, law enforcement in this area appears pretty incapable. Local law enforcement is completely unable to address the issue. I called a local police department and spoke to an officer who basically told me they can’t deal with the issue at all.

Federal agencies may be doing something? But given the number of scams I’ve reported to the FTC/IRS and never heard back I honestly don’t know what the process they have is.

My Advice

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to:

  • Hang up
  • Block the number
  • Report it to the FTC/IRS if you have the time
  • If you’re actually worried about the IRS going after you please read the IRS website

Best of luck avoiding the scammers in the future.