A little more than a year ago we posted about an IRS phone scam that was fooling thousands of people into giving up their hard earned money. The scammers used an automated “robo voice” message that stated the IRS had filed a lawsuit against the targeted victim. The message sounded official and scary enough to fool even myself for a moment. I’m well versed in phone scams and I don’t trust anyone that calls me up, however the call sounded authentic at first. I can only imagine how many unsuspecting victims the scammers had conned.
There’s a new scam making the rounds now, and I’ve been getting calls non-stop for the past few weeks. The message is another automated robo-voice, however the content of the message is slightly different from last time:
“This message is time sensitive and urgent, as after audit we found that there was a fraud and misconduct on your tax which you are hiding from the federal government. This needs to be rectified immediately so do return the call as soon as you receive the message. The number is __________ .”
The numbers that called with these messages were from all over the country, so there’s no one location or area code to look out for or block. It would seem that the perpetrators just burn through numbers as they are reported to the relevant authorities. I tried to call the first number I got hit with it was disconnected. However that didn’t stop several other numbers calling me the following day.
Incidentally, if you do call the number back you will be greeted by someone who is clearly from another country. I called the number back, myself, and asked “Who is this?” I could hear chatter in the background, then the person on the other end said “What?” so I repeated the question. I was then hung up on.
I then repeatedly called the number back and proceeded to let it rip, accusing them of fraud and threatening them with the FBI, as well as using a gratuitous amount of colorful language. It was actually very cathartic. The number never called me again (actually they said, “Stop calling me, asshole” and hung up on me).
Officially, the IRS will never call you up if you have any tax issues; they will correspond by mail for any and all important matters. So if you ever receive a call from someone claiming to be the IRS, they aren’t the IRS.
Unfortunately the perpetrators of this scam-that-won’t-die are in another country, therefore it is difficult for the FBI to totally shut them down. The best defense is education and knowledge and spreading the word, especially to the elderly or anyone who might be susceptible to fall for these types of scams.
Additionally, it seems this scam was so profitable that there are several groups doing this now.
My theory is that if everyone who gets this scam call phones back and yells at, annoys, or pranks the scammers, they will stop. They didn’t call me again both times after I screamed at them and threatened them with the FBI. So, if you need a place to vent your pent up emotions, have at it!