NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A scammer picked the wrong number to call when he contacted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Josh Devine, a public information officer with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, picked up the phone while his co-worker, Susan Niland, recorded the conversation. The caller, which introduced himself as Officer Kevin Felton with the International Revenue Service proceeds to ask Devine for his first and last name and mailing address.
Devine plays along giving fake information, but when he is asked to give his social security number, Devine refuses, asking "is this some sort of scam? I've always been told if someone asks for your social security number it is a scam."
The scammer responds saying he only needs the last four digits of Devine's social and if he doesn't give it he could go to jail.
"If you have information about me you should know what my social security number is. I don't know why I have to tell you," prods Devine.
"I'm just trying to pull up your file. I'm not saying that we don't have that," says the caller.
Devine responds saying, "well you guys called me. You said I owed you money. Certainly, you have to know what my deal is, right?"
The caller huffs and asks for Devine's date of birth. When Devine responds with a fake birthday, the caller says he was able to pull up his "details," then tells him there is a lawsuit being filed against him for tax evasion and demands he pay $6,325 to the internal revenue service or go to jail.
When asked why he owed the money, the caller makes up an elaborate story about the IRS conducting an audit of taxes from 2011-2016 and finding miscalculation errors. He says Devine must pay or the IRS will take legal action by marking a lien on his property, freezing his account, passport and driver's license.
"If I choose get arrested, what does that look like," asks Devine. "Are you going to come get me at a certain time and day or what? Cause I don't have no $6,600 to pay you today."
Backtracking, the caller says Devine doesn't have to pay the full amount, just a portion and he can get on a "monthly payment plan." He then goes on to say if he doesn't pay they'll have to contact the local sheriff's department to arrest him in an hour and if he is found guilty he will be kept in custody for 72 hours and could pay up to $45,000 or go to prison for up to five years.
"So I have to make a decision right now," asks Devine. The caller responds saying, "If you disconnect the line without resolving the case…"
Next, Devine said he accidentally disconnected the call while trying to put the phone on mute. Fortunately, he said the scammer called back.
Confronting the caller, Devine says "Here's the deal sir. If you would have looked at the number you called, you would have realized you called the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation sir. I very much work for a legitimate law enforcement agency and you sir are a scam."
Devine says the conversation didn't end so well, but they got a good laugh out of it. He says he recorded the conversation to let people hear what the call sounds like and to remind them that the IRS will never demand payment over the phone or call about taxes owed without first mailing several bills. They will also never call or email you to demand immediate payment over the phone or demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount.
Furthermore, the IRS will not call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal or financial informatin. They also won't threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement to demand payment for not paying.
If you receive a call, Devine says do not give out any information. He says hang up and report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by visiting their website or calling 1-800-366-4484.