I got a call at work the other day, not on the work phone that has been nothing but telemarketers and wrong numbers since we opened in September and installed the landline shortly thereafter, but on my personal phone, the cell phone I’m not supposed to have out at work, but check sparingly in case some disaster comes along and I’m the most suitable person to help, which thankfully for disaster victims, hasn’t been the case yet. I missed the call, but luckily for me, the Dallas area coded phone number had left a voicemail. Jerry Jones must have seen my criticism of Dak Prescott’s downfield throwing game on Sunday Night Football and was calling to throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at me to be a coach or quarterback consultant of some kind. Thanks to one of the latest iPhone software updates, the words in the voicemail were transcribed so I was able to read the message without having to listen to it, usually a preferable option. “…Generated under your name and you will be taken under judicial custody..” were the first words I read. Intrigued and confused I listened to the message, which repeated the words I’d read, in a robotic voice, which began halfway through a recording, and informed me that if I had any questions to call their number to speak with the tax department, so I did.
I dialed the number immediately, desperately to figure out what was going on, and to my surprise somebody actually picked up the phone, answering with three letters, “IRS?” I explained to the heavily accented man about the phone message and I was just trying to figure out what was going on, for I certainly didn’t want any part of being under judicial custody. He asked me my name, which should have been a red flag, but in my state of panic and wanting to get to the bottom of the situation, I obliged. If it really was the IRS or any government entity for that matter, my name would have been in a computerized database connected to my phone number, so they would have known who I was when they answered the phone. After confirming that my first name had two L’s and spelling out my last name for the guy, he calmly informed me that I was being sued by the IRS for tax fraud and then he presented me with two options. I could set up a payment to cover the more than $3,000 I owed, or I could set up a court date that would be very costly for me, and if I lost the trial would be forced to pay the money, plus spend up to five years in prison. Neither of those options seemed very preferable to me, and that is when my logic kicked in and I started to get suspicious.
I asked the man why I owed the money and he kindly informed me that I’d been audited by the IRS, and between the years of 2009 and 2015 I’d cheated them out of a few thousand dollars. This all seemed pretty amazing to me given the fact that it was the first I was hearing about any of this. No letter, no phone call, no contact informing me that I was being audited, a nightmarish headache for most people, but a process that I didn’t even know I was going through. I asked the man if the IRS could confirm all of this information if I hung up on him and called them immediately. A nervous “what” escaped his lips and I repeated the question. “Yes of course” he assured me. “I thought you were the IRS?” I questioned. Clearly uncomfortable caught in his own lie, he decided it would be best to move on quickly and get down to business. He asked if I wanted to pay the fine or try to fight the charge, which could lead to jail time, he kindly re-informed me, desperate to get the money ASAP. I told him that I was going with the third option, the much more preferable one of hanging up the phone and telling him to never contact me again. Since that whole ordeal on Friday I have tried calling the number back once, which is 469-607-2340, just to confirm what I already knew to be true. My call could not be completed as dialed; the scam artists have dropped that number and are using a different one to terrorize innocent people into handing over their hard earned money.