A group of us from the office were at a luncheon the other day when I received a text from my wife. It seems the IRS left her a voicemail informing her they are filing a lawsuit against us. I assume they meant her, but for the sake of argument, I’ll use the word “us.”
Having been in the tax industry for many years, I can tell you the IRS will never call you to let you know they are filing a lawsuit against you. The real IRS will contact you initially by mail only. In fact, they have a knack for making sure you receive their initial notice on a Friday afternoon after work so you have a whole weekend to think about it before you contact your tax preparer or the IRS directly on Monday. They will never call you directly to tell you that you are being sued.
Knowing this, I thought I’d have a little fun on the drive home from the luncheon:
I called them back and pretended to be afraid of what was going to happen next. I made up a name, a fake Social Security number, and a zip code.
The gentleman who took my call was polite at first. He asked for my personal information and verified the number I called was the number left on the voicemail.
Once he “verified” my fake information, he asked if I prepared my own taxes or if I paid someone to do it. Assuming he was fishing, I told him I prepared my own.
That was what he wanted to hear.
He then informed me I had underpaid the IRS in excess of $11,000 from 2007-2012 and they were going to file a lawsuit against me to recover the funds.
He started citing code (fake code, not even real IRS code).
He told me what I had done was a crime against the United States.
He informed me that if they filed suit, my credit would be ruined.
All of this was in a very aggressive, very quick, and very confident tone.
“Do you understand what will happen if we file suit?”
I did. I was so scared.
“Do you want to fix this now or go ahead with the lawsuit?’
Now really, who wants to get sued? Especially by the IRS. Given the opportunity, I think most would want to fix this now. So, I told him I really wanted to fix this now.
“Do you have enough money in your bank account to cover this?”
I told him I did, I wanted to fix it and make it right. I did not want to be sued.
With that, he gave me instructions to drive as quickly as I could to my bank. Once there, he would give me instructions on what to do next.
Now up until this point, I was fishing. I wanted to see what the scam was, how someone could get tricked into giving them their money. I could see it now. The pressure he put on me. The threats of lawsuits. The reading of fake IRS code. The confidence and the aggressiveness. I can see how someone could feel like they needed to clear this up before it went to court.
Now, with the knowledge I was ready to pay, he wanted me to drive as quickly as I could to the bank (I assume to wire him money to an overseas account).
I complied. Well, sort of…
I was driving, but not to the bank.
He wanted me to honk. To keep honking.
He knew he had someone on the hook and didn’t want to let them off. He kept putting additional pressure on me in an attempt to increase my stress.
“Keep honking! Keep honking!”
I told him I couldn’t honk right now. That there was a nice lady crossing the street in front of me. (There wasn’t, but I wasn’t really driving to the bank either).
He didn’t care.
I told him the nice lady fell, he needed to call for EMS and the police.
He still didn’t care. At this point, I was beginning to think he wasn’t a real representative from the IRS.
“How far are you from the bank?”
I told him about five minutes.
That was when I kindly asked him to hold for a second while I ordered coffee. (The Starbucks drive through was busy and I didn’t want to hold up anyone behind me).
That was the moment when he realized I wasn’t really going to the bank, he didn’t have someone on the line that was going to send him money, and he had wasted the last fifteen minutes of his life.
The string of expletives that came out of his mouth was like something I had never heard.
That made me smile.
I had actually been able to upset a “man” trying to steal money from an unsuspecting individual.
In politeness, I assume, he hung up the phone in order to allow me to retrieve my coffee.
It was an entertaining drive home. I was able to get some insight into their tactics and I kept him from talking to someone else who may have given him their money. I’d say it was a good day.
Had I not had a background in taxation, it would have been very easy to fall prey to what he was telling me. It would have been very easy to fall into the trap of sending him money to make this whole thing go away.
The IRS will never call to tell you they are filing a lawsuit, and they will never ask you to settle anything over the phone. If you receive a voicemail like this, don’t ever worry about calling them back. It’s a scam. However, if you want me to call them back, I’d be happy to. It helps to pass the time while I am driving and it seems to get under their skin a little bit.
Also, don’t worry, the pretend lady who fell crossing the street in front of my truck is just fine. I pretended to go back and check on her later.
PLEASE NOTE LIMITATIONS: Please see Important Disclosure Information and the limitations of any ranking/recognitions, at www.fostergrp.com/info-disclosure/. A copy of our current written disclosure statement as set forth on Part 2A of Form ADV is available at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.