Investigations can mean a lot of hard detective work, but shouldn’t police be able to have a good time along the way?
Burlington Police tweeted about some fun they’ve had with telephone scammers claiming to be IRS collection officers Wednesday afternoon:
Guess the scammers at 202-506-8599 don't want to talk to us. When the "IRS Agent" we spoke to found out who was calling they hung up. #rude— Burlington Police (@burlingtonpd) June 4, 2014
Burlington Police Lt. Glen Mills was responsible for the impish phone calls, and said the scam is just one of many similar ruses reported to the department. The tricksters often prey on immigrant and elderly communities, sometimes threatening jail time or even deportation for phantom tax bills.
Mills said these scams can be hard to solve, with many operations employing untraceable phone numbers and headquartering overseas.
So every now and then, the lieutenant likes to try his luck and call the impostors directly.
“I kept calling them back for a while, and got new people every time,” Mills said. “As soon as I said I was the police—‘click.’”
But not all of the calls go that way. In fact, Mills has even gotten into arguments with scammers who insist they are brother officers.
“They said ‘This is New York! NYPD!’,” Mills laughed. “[And I’d ask] ‘Oh yeah? What district?’”
Mills advised readers that they should trust their intuition when receiving such phone calls—for example, the IRS will never ask you to get a money order or prepaid debit card to pay a back tax bill.
“Just always remember, if it sounds funny or suspicious, then listen to your gut,” he said. “If it seems weird, trust your instincts...if it sounds too strange to be true, it probably is.”
Readers who think they may have been targeted by such a scam can report via this form on the IRS website.
Oh, and if pranking scammers is your thing, I’ll just leave this website here.Caesar can be reached at Christopher.Caesar@globe.com or via Twitter @ChrisCaesar.