Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Hello, this is the IRS ...

Wick's World


"Hello, this is the IRS calling. We have filed a lawsuit against you. Please call this number immediately. 415-866-4109." (Actual number.) As the call was coming in, the screen read "mobile caller." I knew it was a cell phone and I was certain it was a scam. I punched the number into my computer and discovered what I already knew was waiting for me. The website listed this number as a phone scam. It was accompanied by a number of comments, all stating someone who claimed to be from the IRS had informed them of a pending lawsuit.

This particular phone scam was fresh on my mind. Warnings had recently been posted on social media, in newspapers and on television by law enforcement and others — the public — and I owe them a big thank you for this forewarning. I generally ignore these types of calls but I was so well-equipped to reply I couldn't help myself. I dialed 1-415-866-4109.

A man answered, "Hello, IRS."

"BS!" I replied. "The IRS would never call me from a cell phone! I'm turning you in!"

The man on the other end of the line meekly said, "I'm sorry." I couldn't believe it. For real, he truly stated the words, "I'm sorry."

Twenty-four hours later, I placed another call to the same number just to see if our IRS scammer was still there. A robo-voice replied, "The number you dialed is not a working number."

I would like to think it was me who got rid of that guy in a hurry. The reality is these scammers use a phone number and quickly get rid of it long before it can be traced. Scammers ask you to send them cash, check or a money order, will rent a post office box using a false physical address or steal someone's real one. Then they disappear long before postal inspectors can catch up with them.

Same day, two hours later, I get another phone call. This one came on the screen as 13074 TECHNICAL LINE.

I answer with a courteous, "Hello."

"Mr. McKenna?" replies the man with a Southeast Asian voice that to me screams, "I am calling you from Thailand."

Our landline is listed in my wife's name so whenever I get a phone call asking for a Mr. McKenna, two things come to mind: 1) the calling party does not know me, and 2) the calling party is either trying to sell me something or con me out of something. To me, con and sell are synonymous.

I always answer the Mr. McKenna inquiry the same way. I loudly state, "Who is this?"

This guy actually replied, "My name is Roy Goodman."

"You don't sound like Roy Goodman to me. I bet you're from technical services and want to look at my computer. Let me give you my password so you can help yourself to all my information."

Before he could reply I said, "Are you kidding me? Just how (darn) stupid do you think I am? If you ever call this number again, I will spend the rest of my days tracking you down until I see you in jail!"

I once ranted and railed on a guy wanting access to my computer and between my outbursts, he simply kept reading from a script. This was the moment I realized these guys are being monitored by someone to see how well they are doing. The proof was when he finally grew tired of the verbal abuse I was heaping upon him and replied, “Sir, you are an a-----e, sir.”

As you can tell, I no longer mince words with any telemarketers. They have become much more than a simple nuisance. They are common thieves whose specialty is to prey on the elderly. Since this recent IRS scam hit the airwaves, there have been over 5,000 victims who have been preyed upon, most of them elderly folk who grew up in a day and age when you trusted people and had phone manners. Unfortunately, today we have to teach our children and re-teach our elders to trust no one and never ever give out private information, such as passwords and Social Security numbers.

Incidentally, the IRS will never call without prior notification and for the most part, even then. If you have dealings with the IRS, it is usually via the U.S. mail as they like information in hard copy. Do not feel obligated to treat any telemarketer with respect. They instigated the call on your time. They are never there to do you a favor.


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