DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Have you ever had someone call you and say they’re from the IRS and you owe them money? Then comes a threat that says if you don’t wire the cash, you’ll be arrested.
It happened to WPTV reporter Andrew Lofholm who decided to call them back with a local detective standing by.
Lofholm sat next to Economic Crimes Detective Kimberly Mead at the Delray Beach Police Department.
The person claiming to be an “IRS Agent,” who identified himself as “Simon Smith,” put us on hold a bunch of times and finally said pay $5,000 or he would send over the police to have me arrested. It’s their signature move.
Cue Detective Mead.
“Sir, this is the Delray Beach Police Department and what you’re doing is wrong!” Mead said to "Simon Smith."
He says he knows.
“They’re relentless and they’re going to keep calling and it’s their way of life. That’s how they make money and they’re not going to stop,” Mead sai.
The story took a turn a little later.
As if I’m in the Matrix, “Agent Smith” called back. His number popped up as 911.
“I’m not excited about it, I’m more nervous,” Smith said. “Well, the thing about it is … I don’t know how my voice sounds like.”
He wouldn’t say what country he is calling from, but he insisted he was at the call center under his own will. And then he got candid.
“Well, whether you believe it or not, it’s been like 20, 30 years we’ve been scamming the United States. I want the citizens to be (aware) of all these kinds of things,” he says, urging WPTV to publish a story about our conversation.
“What I’m asking you is how are you actually getting the money, what are you telling them to do?” Det. Mead says to Smith.
Police would never actually arrest someone for owing taxes, but it’s enough to convince some people to pay up. They’ll ask you to buy reloadable cards, and provide the number on the back.
“They’re going to try whatever they can to get your money out if you and if they’re asking for a card, don’t fall for it. Verify everything,” Mead said.
“Agent Smith” said the three states that people live in that are most likely to fall for this scam are California, Texas and Florida.
The IRS says if you do owe them money, they would first alert you by mail and as a last resort call you.