With Halloween coming up, it is just not the neighbor kids looking forward to trick or treat but also people pretending that they are the Internal Revenue Service looking to steal your identity and scam you for your money.
Listen to the story of Arati who works in New York City and immigrated to the U.S. from India. Arati received a call from a Brian Cruz who called her house early in the morning before Arati left for work. He left his telephone number, name and noted he was calling from the IRS. Arati put the number in her cell phone without searching for it online first. After all it had a 202 area code which is Washington D.C. so she figured it had to be official. Once she got into her car she called, and the man who picked up the call answered that this was the investigations bureau for the IRS. Arati asked for Cruz, but he wasn’t available. The man who picked up the call told Arati to give him the telephone number where Cruz left the message. She did, and then it began.
After the man confirmed Arati’s home telephone number, he stated that she attempted to defraud the IRS, and that the government was now taking legal action against her including issuing a warrant for her arrest within the next hour. When Arati asked what this was all about, he asked if she aware of an investigation against her. Arati replied “I have no clue about an investigation. This is the first time I’m hearing about any of this”. Arati started to panic. The man asked if Arati had a lawyer, and then told her about the investigation ordering her not to interrupt him while he speaks. He then recited the last four digits of Arati’s social security number and recited where she worked. He seemed to know all of Arati’s personal information. He told Arati that she failed to declare all of her income and engaged in tax fraud. He then told Arati that the government was seizing all property and all assets in her name that it had already froze her bank and credit card accounts, suspended her driver’s license as well as her passport. Furthermore, there would be a massive penalty, plus possible jail-time and that her social security number was now blacklisted.
Arati listened with fear to this man who went on to tell me someone would be waiting at her office to arrest her. When she interrupted him to ask why this was the first time she was hearing about this, he ignored her question, paused and began repeating the details of the investigation. Arati then asked again why this was the first time she was hearing about it. His reply: “This isn’t our first attempt to make you aware. We came to your house but you were not home.” Arati then asked what she owed the government. He replied approximately $4,900. Arati then asked why she couldn’t just pay him the amount owed. He told her that the investigation was beyond the point of payment–it was too late.
The man then asked Arati questions like: Have you been part of any previous tax fraud cases? Are there currently any judgments against you? Are there any lawsuits pending against you? The man then stated that since the warrant for Arati’s arrest had yet to be issued, she could pay the amount owed and avoid the legal mess he’d been threatening her with by wiring the amount owed or delivering a check to him.
Now at this point Arati was starting to think that something was wrong. Being an IRS agent, wouldn’t he already have records showing that she has a clean record? Wouldn’t she have been audited if the IRS believed she owed taxes? Why would the IRS look to take such drastic action for only a $4,900 liability? Arati started to doubt the man and when she pressed him to independently confirm that he works for the IRS, he replied: “How would you even find me using the IRS 1-800 number? This is my direct line. Do you want to find out if I’m a real IRS agent? You’ll see in an hour when the arrest warrant is issued.” Then, he hung up. Arati then showed up at work and no agents were waiting for her.
I tell you this true story so you can get an idea on how far these scam artists are willing to go.
So What Should You Do?
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484. So far for this year, the government has received more than 90,000 calls.
And if you do owe taxes and you have not already resolved this with the IRS, it’s important that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. Hire a tax attorney that is highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income.
Original Post By: Jeffrey Kahn