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BEWARE: New Phone Scam

phoneWe have recently been contacted by several of our clients who have received disturbing phone calls purporting to be from federal agents.  The callers claim to be agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and say that there is a warrant out for your arrest for failure to pay taxes or some other type of tax fraud. They threaten that within an hour they will freeze your bank accounts and that they will be at your house to arrest you unless you immediately make a good-faith payment toward the balance in arrears.

The calls are intense, high pressure communications.  The originating phone number may appear to be in Washington, DC, or even show up as “911.”  They will attempt to keep you on the phone with them, saying that to hang up before they arrive would be deemed a lack of cooperation.  They may claim that any effort to contact your own lawyer will also be deemed a failure to cooperate.  Instead, they will say that a “federal lawyer” with the IRS will be at your house shortly.  They may threaten that “seven years in a prison in Alaska” will be the consequence unless the required funds are wired before the agents arrive.

This is a scam.  IRS agents do not call up individuals and attempt to shake them down for money.  If there’s an outstanding arrest warrant, law enforcement agents will come and arrest you.  They don’t offer you the chance to buy your way out of it by sending money.  Never give anybody access to your bank accounts and never send them any money under these types of circumstances.  The culprits are located overseas notwithstanding the phone number that may show up on your caller ID.

A similar scam involves utility company scams in which the caller claims that they haven’t received your recent payments and that your power will be shut off in an hour unless you make some payment toward the balance in arrears.  Obviously their goal is to get your credit card information or to get you to transfer money to their account.

Please spread the word about this scam, especially to any elderly relatives or to others who may be less sophisticated about how government agencies work.  Even otherwise level-headed people can become overwhelmed under the intense pressure of these calls.  So, beware!  Note that contacting your local police department to make a report will probably not catch the crooks due to their location outside the United States.

Remember, if you are ever contacted by actual federal agents or investigators, from the IRS or any other government agency or law enforcement division, do not hesitate to contact us.  We have enormous experience in dealing with real federal agents, and are here to help you if you need us.

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