Here is the latest scam:

A call comes in from 415-230-2734 — this is “Internal Revenue” calling. Not IRS, or the full name. San Francisco proper calling NY? No way.

I return the call, get someone with an Indian accent. Do it again 3X, getting a different person with an Indian accent each time.They always answer Agent XXX. (If you have ever spoken to anyone at the IRS, you know there is a very specific protocol they follow — this wasn’t it).

Eventually, I speak speak to a “supervisor” agent Kenneth (really) also with an Indian accent. The whole thing smells incredibly fishy.

I ask “What do I owe” and their response is “What do you think you owe?

Hey, you guys called me! Don’t you have that in your files?

Back and forth we go. He asks me again, so I say $25,000. He comes back with $29,434.59 including “legal expenses.” I laugh to myself.

A few years ago, I was on the Board of Directors of a company, and the outside accountants had made a pricing error when issuing the Board’s exercised stock options. They took in account illiquidity, and thin trading volume and made a huge discount on the exercise price. A year later, someone else discovered the error. In refiling the tax docs for the options, there is a box on the options form marked “Modification.” This genius accountant forgot to check it. So the  mistake made it appear to the IRS that these were were now a new filing of options, and everyone who exercised them failed to report it to the IRS on a timely basis the previous year.  Letters went out, bills were issued. The prior filing was at too low a dollar amount, so while we each owed the difference — a not insubstantial amount — it was a lot less than if we had been issued another big slug of stock.

It was a big pain in the ass, but eventually, we all got it straightened out.

During this snafu., I spent a lot of time speaking to IRS agents, investigators, supervisors. I got to know their rhythms and protocols, how they operated. The people on the phone tonight were obvious not IRS. It was clearly a scam to me.

The coup de grace is what they wanted from me: If I don’t send a transfer voucher –  tonite — they are going to issue an arrest warrant and an officer will be at my house in in 30 minutes to “bring me in.”

I engaged this worm Kenneth for another 10 minutes, before finally asking “Is anyone really dumb enough to fall for this scam?”

As soon as he hears the word scam, he hangs up.

That was 2 hours ago.

I assume the San Francisco number is a forward, and these Fraudsters are not really in the Bay Area.

I’d love to get these guys shut down — any suggestions?

Category: Legal, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

29 Responses to “Beware: The Phony IRS Scam”

  1. Iamthe50percent says:

    Report them to the real IRS? I’d try it.

  2. raholco says:

    Odds are they spoofed the caller ID, in which case rotsa ruck hunting them down.

    I suppose you could try to stay on the line long enough to get some kind of trace, but it would probably dead-end somewhere, and you’d need to engage the proper resources (FBI/Secret Service/TelCo)

    I’ve been half-tempted when ‘Rachel from cardmember services’ calls to give them an emptied-out gift-card number and see what hilarity happens.

    Also: are you sure they were Indian? I’d suspect an Eastern Bloc pull the IRS stunt; the Indians usually pull the ‘your computer has a virus-we can remove it for a fee’ stunt.

    • DeDude says:

      Yes I just loved that computer virus thing. “Windows????, yes I am looking at my windows!!! – all clear sir.

      What I really need is a phone system where all calls except those from numbers I pre-approve go directly to the machine without a single ring. Who has that kind of system?

      • Iamthe50percent says:

        I would pay hundreds of dollars for such a device. I’d pay $30 a month for such a service.

      • davec8080 says:

        You should never give out your cell phone number to any business, ever. Not even your own employer, if you can help it.

        For any business relationship, get a VOIP service. If you still have a real land-line phone, why?

        Anyway, I am responding to the person who wants all calls except those from pre-approved numbers to go directly to a machine without a single ring. This is called a “white-list” function. You put people you WANT to hear from on a white-list. Everybody else gets call dropped, or goes to voice-mail (your choice) It’s been years since I’ve had VOIP, but most of the better VOIP services had a white-list function. Check it out. Should cost way less than thirty bucks per month. I think the one I used had a monthly cost of one lunch at McD’s, at the time.

  3. Todd in SM says:

    “415 number”
    Google voice has a lot of numbers in the 415. You can be anywhere on the planet and use Google Voice for both incoming and outgoing.

  4. gloppie says:

    Good luck with that; the FCC is a dead end, don’t waste your time.
    Maybe the FBI, it probably is an international scam originating out of a South American VOIP call centre anyway. 50 Percent’s suggestion of the IRS is also good. If nobody moves try to get your friendly MSM local broadcaster to issue a warning, that may stir the pot.

  5. flocktard says:

    I got one of these calls a few months ago and asked the same question. It was obviously from a VERY noisy call center somewhere in Bangalore or something, and since I know the IRS never calls people, but notifies you by mail, I knew the call was a sham. In any case, I already know the IRS has MORE than it’s fair share of my money, and there was absolutely no reason to call me. It’s a ruse to get your SS# when they ask you to “verify” it.

  6. ByteMe says:

    It’s likely a VOIP number belonging to Broadvox CLEC. Try contacting them… it’s their phone services these scammers are using. Info courtesy of fonefinder.net. YMMV.

  7. peterkrause says:

    I hope you have Lifelock or similar, because by spending that much time on the phone you left yourself vulnerable to additional hacks and penetrations. Or it could have just been NSA goofing around. Either way, be more careful. And I am NOT a conspiracy theorist. Sleep well.

  8. rd says:

    The NSA probably knows who you called.

  9. Bernie X says:

    They love it when you tell them that they sound Pakistani.

  10. Somos says:

    No, but I am an attorney at a legal aid agency. And my clients are exactly the ones terrified by the threats and occasionally scammed by these predators (Usually they claim to be police detectives in NYC collecting a debt and failure to pay will lead to arrest). People who don’t know the utter desperation, hopelessness and ignorance of poverty, especially for the elderly and disabled, often find it difficult to understand the compliance. I’ve found no way to trace these bucket shops but if you do…let me know.

  11. SolomonClark says:

    Not sure the real authorities can do much. The Internet has an option though:

    “What is scambaiting? Well, put simply, you enter into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their time and resources. Whilst you are doing this, you will be helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims and screwing around with the minds of deserving thieves.”

    Scambaiting emerged in response to those phony emails from Nigerian dictators, or “419″ scams: http://www.419eater.com/

    • That is exactly what I did

      • ffejie says:

        Scambaiting is good fun. I gave these guys a call, even though they didn’t call me. Unfortunately, they try to look you up based on your phone number. When my number kept coming up blank, I couldn’t get very far with them. Usually after a minute or so, they hang up on me. I keep calling back: “Hi, I was disconnected.” There’s quite a few “agents” working this scam.

  12. mpetrosian says:

    Next time wait before publishing the number. There are plenty of people connected to people at Quora, 2600, etc that can have fun with a number like that. You can usually get routing numbers and IBAN numbers from scammers to have fun with as well. There’s no way to inflict pain through legal channels.

  13. CD4P says:

    You could’ve offered to visit the IRS branch office in Battery Park* the next day to ‘sort things out’. [*It's a park!]

    I vote you refer the matter to the new consumer protection division, and let’s see what they can do…
    http://www.ftc.gov/about-ftc/bureaus-offices/bureau-consumer-protection

  14. tnoll says:

    Call the IRS, turn in the number and let them get their people or FBI to trace it.

  15. Fibognocchi says:

    There’s an App for that:

    §912. Officer or employee of the United States

    Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 742; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(H), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)
    Historical and Revision Notes

    Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §§76 and 123 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §§32 and 66, 35 Stat. 1095, 1100; Feb. 28, 1938, ch. 37, 52 Stat. 82).

    Section consolidates sections 76 and 123 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed. The effect of this consolidation was to increase the punishment for revenue officers from $500 to $1,000 and from 2 years to 3 years, and to rephrase in the alternative the mandatory punishment provision.

    This section now applies the same punishment to all officers and agents of the United States found guilty of false personation.

    Words “agency or” were inserted to eliminate any possible ambiguity as to scope of section. (See definitive section 6 of this title.) Other words referring to “authority of any corporation owned or controlled by the United States” were omitted for the same reason. (See Pierce v. U.S., 1941, 62 S. Ct. 237, 314 U.S. 306, 86 L. Ed. 226.)

    The words “with the intent to defraud the United States or any person”, contained in said section 76 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., were omitted as meaningless in view of United States v. Lapowich, 63 S. Ct. 914.

    Changes were made in phraseology.
    Amendments

    1994—Pub. L. 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $1,000”.

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title18/html/USCODE-2011-title18-partI-chap43-sec912.htm

  16. BennyProfane says:

    I’m surprised they were Indian. I would expect Russian, Eastern European, or African. The world gets a little flatter.

  17. EdMcGon says:

    This is what we get for strip-searching an Indian diplomat…

  18. brbrbrad says:

    Looks like you aren’t the only one getting scammed from this number: http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-415-230-2734

  19. louiswi says:

    I think Barry really has the answer. I had a similar experience-kept them on the phone for quite a long time. Finally I just said, “you know I’m just F$cking with you, don’t you?” Click. That ended it but I wasted a good bit of their time. Time they could have used to hastle someone else. I found it to be a good bit of fun as well!

  20. Lugnut says:

    My $.02 – I expect the terminating number is in the 415 area code, but that it probably terminates into a hosted wiring closet that connects to a SIP trunk that goes overseas to the call center.. You can hire call centers for any specified purpose over there so thats no indication of where the scammers actually reside. If you have any friends that might work for a telecom company (CLEC), they might be able to fenagle a CSR record lookup on the number for you.that will get you more detailed owner info.

  21. schwartzster says:

    Check out this excellent series about uncovering a scam at the blog Popehat: http://www.popehat.com/2011/09/25/anatomy-of-a-scam-chapter-index/

  22. constantnormal says:

    Wow. I thought they only preyed upon the elderly …

  23. mrsanamouse says:

    We just got a call from this # they left a voicemail. First, thing that is off is they called on a Saturday. “This message is intended for RXXXXX VXXXXXX. RXXXXX the very second you receive this message I need you or your repeat(?) attorney off racket? to return the call. The issue at hand is extremely time sensitive. My name is Chris Brown from IRS Internal Revenue Service Department and hotline to my division is 4152302734. I repeat it’s 4152302734. Don’t try to disregard this message and do return the call as soon as possible before any legal allegations take place … we have determined that there is a deficiency in your income tax. So goodbye and take care.” I thought the voice sounded Indian at first, then after replaying it I realized I have no idea what ethnicity the voice is from it is almost humorous though. DEFINATELY A SCAM, I WILL NOT CALL THEM. Thanks for your post and all the comments.