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Rest in Peace,
CH. 19 ACTION NEWS INTERVIEWS CLEVELAND ACTIVIST RE. HIS PERSONAL STORY OF AN IRS TAX SCAM
Submitted by Satinder P S Puri on Fri, 02/28/2014 - 23:43.
CLEVELAND’S CHANNEL 19 ACTION NEWS INTERVIEWED LOCAL WEST PARK ACTIVIST SATINDER P.S. PURI RE. HIS PERSONAL STORY OF AN IRS TAX SCAM THAT HE EXPERIENCED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2014.
THE INTERVIEW WILL BE BROADCAST, TODAY – FEBRUARY 28, 2014 ON CLEVELAND’S LOCAL CHANNEL 19 AT 10.00 & 11.00 P.M. AND A VIDEO CLIP WILL ALSO BE POSTED ON THEIR WEBSITE. Here is the link to the Channel 19 news story of 02-28-14 titled: Warning: You may get this call from slick con men: http://bit.ly/1bTH27g
I have been active in THE SAVE JOHN MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOL, VOTE NO TO TAX LEVY, and now the INVESTIGATE CITY HALL, and VOTE NO ON SIN TAX campaigns.
I live in the Jefferson Park neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side with our seven, very naughty, cats. My wife Sarah Puri, a friend for 45-years, who had not been keeping well passed away on February 8, 2014.
I am a copious note-taker and the following narrative is based on my notes.
On the morning of Thursday, February 13, 2014 – two weeks ago – a message was left on our home (land-line) telephone around 8:30 a.m. saying that I had been charged with defrauding the IRS and that I should call back an 1-866 number.
Around 8:45 a.m. I called back.
The conversation lasted nearly 30 minutes.
The person at the other end identified himself as an IRS agent. He gave me his name and badge number, and added that he was located in Washington, D.C.
There was a lot of background noise with words like IRS and taxes being partially audible.
SP2569-O-H. He was very particular that the ‘O’ stood for Oscar and ‘H’ for Harry.
The agent said I had been monitored by the IRS and the State of Ohio between 1995 and 2005 and they found out that taxes amounting to $3,544 remain unpaid and there was strong evidence to believe that I had intended to defraud the IRS.
I replied saying that I had paid thousands of dollars in taxes and that I was a respectable citizen who had no intention of defrauding the IRS. I mentioned that I lived at home with our cats and that my wife had passed away a few days ago, and her cremains were coming home today.
My personal state did not evoke any empathy from the agent
The agent was very firm, sounded very rude, and told me not to interrupt him, listen carefully, and that he did not work for me and that I could be arrested and that my passport, car, and assets could be seized and that I could be deported.
I wanted to -- but did not tell the agent that we don’t have a car – let alone knowing how to drive one and that I was a U.S. citizen.
Allegations: The agent was very specific and listed the following four allegations:
The agent added that the IRS had decided to forcefully collect the amount due as per IRS Code 6331.
When I said that I had not received any documentation from the IRS – the agent admonished me not to interrupt him and to listen carefully.
The agent said that on September 30, 2006 – paperwork was sent to our home address and that there was no one to receive it.
I again reiterated that there was no intention to defraud.
Options: The agent gave me the following two options:
First: If I fight the case I could have a black spot on my record.
Second: Clear the payment of $3,544 outside the courthouse. I was not supposed to talk to anyone. The payment was to be via electronic format from a CVS or Rite Aid store.
When I said that the IRS accepts checks – the agent retorted not to argue and if I refused to comply I would be arrested and deported.
When I asked to speak with a supervisor – the agent responded that he was the supervisor.
When I insisted that I would only pay by check – the agent said to wait for a few minutes and that I would get a call from the police to arrest me.
Call from Police: Shortly after the nearly 30 min. long conversation ended, I got a call from a person who identified himself in the beginning as Cleveland Police Office James Cooper who wanted me to come and meet him at a police station without specifying which one and where. Towards the end of the call – the officer identified himself as James Andrew. The telephone showed the identifying number as 911. The call was recorded and I did not pick up the phone.
Rush to my niece’s house: I immediately put on my winter boots with the yaktrax (to facilitate traction on snow) and rushed to my niece’s house – she lives a few houses away to tell her about my impending arrest, give her a set of keys. and to please watch over our cats. Unfortunately, she was not available. After returning home, I called my second niece and briefed her about the situation.
Call to 911 and Local Precinct:
Shook-up: I was trapped in an elevator for three-hours during the World Trade Center bombing of February 26, 1993. I have been harassed by the FBI – because of my appearance (an American-Sikh with a turban) and their belief that I was a member of a sleeper cell. I have been questioned multiple times by the Cleveland Police (always very polite) for my activism – but nothing shook me up like the nearly 30 minute conversation with the fake IRS agent and his threat of getting me arrested for a fake charge of defrauding the IRS. I was deeply worried who would take care of our seven cats and the two cats I feed outside during my six months in jail. The story, with all the details, sounded so real. The tactics used by the fake IRS agent were psychologicaly very intimidating. I was ready to pay $3,544 by check and fight my case later. I even got a shopping bag ready for my trip to the jail.
IRS Telephone Scam: The IRS provides ample information about the scam and the tactics used – similar to what I experienced.
IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam:
IR-2013-84, Oct. 31, 2013
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail
Other characteristics of this scam include:
· Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
· Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
· After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
· If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
· If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
· If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing [at] irs [dot] gov.
More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.