When Wisconsin police officer Kyle Roder got a cellphone message on Tuesday from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, he was confused.
He couldn’t think of any reason why the IRS would call him ― especially because the agency usually contacts citizens by mail.
Roder’s ears really perked up when the message threatened him with arrest if he didn’t call back.
The Eau Claire Police Dept. public information officer suspected a scam, but knew there was only one way to find out: By calling that number.
Roder found himself talking with a man with a thick accent who gave his name first as “James Maxwell,” then as “James Johnson.”
When Roder called him on the inconsistency, “James” corrected himself: “It’s James Maxwell Johnson.”
The man who claimed to be “James” then tried to get Roder to give him personal information and/or money. But Roder kept asking pointed questions to get evidence that the whole thing was a scam.
For instance, when Roder asked if he could just go pay his supposed fine at a local IRS office, “Scammer James” said no, because they wouldn’t have the case number now since it had been transferred to his department.
The complete exchange was posted on Facebook (video above) and is pretty amusing, which probably explains why it’s been shared more than 84,000 times.
These types of telephone scammers are a big problem, since many people unwittingly fall for them and end up paying lots of money in order to pay fines they don’t actually owe.
The Eau Claire Police Dept. doesn’t suggest people lead on scammers like Officer Roder. However, the IRS says there are five simple ways to determine if someone claiming to be an agent is trying to scam you:
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.