This Week: A Terrifying IRS Scam… What the IRS will really do… Where to stay in Cedar City… Items to give your loved ones… Another risk of the Internet takedown… And, being part of the Spy Escape family.
Earlier this year, a Utah woman named Kayla S. experienced one of the most frightening scams you could ever imagine.
It all began when Kayla received a phone call from an out of state number. She didn’t recognize the number so she let the call go to voicemail. Shortly after, she listened to the voicemail and heard a person who claimed to be with the IRS.
The caller said Kayla was being audited and that she would go to jail if she didn’t comply with their demands. Due to the nature of the call Kayla was concerned so she immediately called the number back.
The person who answered told her that she would be arrested in 30 to 45 minutes if she didn’t listen carefully. As Kayla was on the phone with the scammers she looked out her front window and saw a white car with tinted windows and a light bar on top.
At this point, she was shocked and scared so she paid close attention to everything the person on the phone was telling her.
The criminal told Kayla to drive to a nearby Walgreens to make a payment. While driving to the store Kayla noticed the suspicious looking car was following her. Once at the store the caller told her to buy a $500 ITunes Gift Card and to give them the number on the back of the card.
Kayla admitted it was starting to sound fishy but she was so frightened by the fake police car waiting outside that she complied with their demands. After she gave them the account number for the gift card the caller disconnected and the car was gone.
While this exact type of story is certainly rare, IRS scams are increasing and according to the latest statistics; over $26 million was lost last year to IRS telephone scams. Usually, these scams come from India and they begin with a phone call from an unknown number telling you that you owe the IRS money and that you must pay immediately.
The callers will often talk with an American accent and will actually identify themselves as IRS agents. For example, they may call and tell you their name is Special Agent Wayne Marshal, badge number 554398. Obviously, this introduction would grab your attention and you would listen very carefully.
Next, the caller may ask you to confirm your name, phone number, or address. In other words, they are simply trying to get you to give them more information that they can use against you. In past instances, victims have asked the caller to provide them with the social security number of the person who owes the taxes but the callers are smart enough to say they cannot share that information.
After the caller has verified you are the person they want to speak with they will start telling you that you owe back taxes and they usually refer to a date. For instance, they may say you owe back taxes for the filing year 2012. They will do this because let’s be honest, who can remember the details of their tax filing in 2012.
Next, the IRS scam will typically quote the tax code such as saying section 101(H.) Unless you are somewhat familiar with tax code you probably wouldn’t know if that was a legitimate code.
Once they are done explaining why you owe the IRS money they will say you must make a payment right away to avoid going to jail or having all your bank accounts frozen.
Sometimes, they’ll even threaten to seize all your assets including your house if you don’t pay right away. If you do fall for the IRS scam and agree to make a payment the caller will usually tell you to send the money using Western Union or some other way that isn’t traceable.
If you look at the story of Kayla they asked for the number on the ITunes card because once they had that they could spend all the money on the card. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for law enforcement to catch these criminals since they are usually working overseas and it’s difficult to follow the money trail.
The bottom line is, if you get a call like this, please don’t fall for it because you will likely never get your money back. If you ever get a call from the “IRS” remember that they always contact you through mail.
If you actually owe back taxes they will send you multiple notices including sending you certified mail, which requires a signature for delivery. Second, the IRS would never require you to make a payment in a specific form such as Western Union or an ITunes gift card.
Also, the IRS would never threaten to send the police to your house to arrest you. If they are pursuing charges against you for back taxes it’s a long process and it goes through the court system.
For those who have ever received such calls you may be wondering how the IRS scam targeted you in the first place. There is no doubt that in this day and age of computer hacking and other forms of identity theft, criminals could get our information in many different ways.
Sadly, one group of scammers was allegedly finding their victims by looking through obituaries. As we know, these share a lot of information including family members names and where they may live.
If you ever do receive a strange call from a suspicious number just remember the U.S. government typically wants a check made out to the US Treasury and the last thing they would ever ask for is an ITunes gift card.
From Thomas F: I have several of your products including the Impenetrable Home Defense course. Your training and presentations are informative and educational. I have grown through your courses.
A: Thank you Thomas. I’m glad you’ve learned some valuable information, which is the goal of everything I do.
From Bob B: For the upcoming Ultimate Spy Week, do you recommend a hotel in town?
A: There are many different options in town but I recommend the Abbey Inn. Ask for the Spy Escape & Evasion corporate discount. Click here for more information on the Ultimate Spy Week 2017.
From Frank T: I have gotten knives, tactical flashlights and tactical pens from you and put them to good use. I gave them to my nieces who are going to college. I also included some basic training on their uses. They were very appreciative…
A: I’m glad you’re looking out for your loved ones. I’ve also given a ton of tactical pens and other items away to my own family members.
From Gordon F: I have shared your concern about the reliability of the Internet for some time now. And there is one more risk related to a takedown of the Internet that you did not specifically mention… Electronic payments depend on reliable Internet connections, and if that fails in general, not just for one or two sites, then people could find themselves unable to make any purchases…
A: You’re absolutely right. It’s important to have cash on hand because you never know if you will be unable to access your bank.
From George F: When I ran across opportunities to learn from your experience I decided to get your newsletter, tactical pens, key chains, knives, flashlights, etc and have been very pleased with everything.
A: Thank you for your feedback, it is always very appreciated. Click here if you aren’t receiving our monthly newsletter.
From Chris E: I’ve had questions regarding orders in the past as have ordered just about everything that is sold by Spy Escape and Evasion (SEE) I have also talked with Lisa on the phone and corresponded by email. Lisa has always been very responsive, professional and helpful. As a company, SEE has always underpromised and overdeliverd regarding any issues that I have brought forward…
A: Lots of kind emails in the mailbag this week. I take customer service very seriously and want everyone treated as if one of my own family members called our customer service. (It may sound corny, but it’s true.)