Since I started blogging about scams, I seem to have become a scam-magnet. Or maybe I’m just noticing them more, and people have been wanging me for money all along?
Today I got a land-line call and saw “Earlimart” on my phone’s screen. I don’t know anybody there, so I didn’t pick up. I got this recording on my voice-mail (the broken English is as I heard it):
Executed by the United States Treasury. Intending your serious attention. Ignoring this message will be an intentional second attempt to avoid an initial appearance before the Registry (?) Judge of the Grand Jury for a federal criminal offense. The number to reach us is 559 588 4761. I advise you to cooperate with us, and help us to help you.
The tone of voice was threatening; the male speaker had a slight accent. I didn’t believe this scam for a second. But I’m worried that easily confused or frightened people might be victimized. Here’s what I did:
Search on the phone number. I googled the phone number that originated the call. It’s a known source of scam calls. Who would have guessed that the US Treasury Department has a legal office in Earlimart, CA?
Of course, originating phone numbers can be faked (“spoofed”); so the call could have originated offshore.
An interesting resource against phone scams is no-more-calls.com . These people are quite combative. They have advice on how to waste a telemarketer’s time. Of course this means wasting your time as well; but it’s an investment in discouraging more calls, and perhaps it’s entertaining. They also advocate suing telemarketers; tho if they’re offshore I doubt that this is practical.
Another resource is valid-number.com, which puts up some information about the calling number and offers to sell you more. (But it thought my home phone number was an invalid entry.) It provided the satellite image of the calling location that I’ve included above. I’m not sure how accurate this location is, but clearly it is not Washington D.C.
Report it to the feds. Next I googled on “US Treasury Department scam”. The feds have a site for reporting this kind of scam. So I did, in hopes of making a tiny contribution toward suppressing the scammer. The auto-reply email I received was illuminating (my bolding):
Thank you for your email. If you have received an unsolicited call from an individual purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of the Treasury, and/or making threats of legal action or even promises of federal grant funds, it is a fraud.
There are a number of similar scams, some of which can be quite persuasive: in some, the scammers have done brief Internet research of potential victims so they appear to be familiar with their victim’s personal details, and they use this information as a springboard to obtain more. You may report scams regarding the IRS at the following site:
https://treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml. Other scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, (or call 1-877-FTC-HELP) and internet (email) frauds to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov.
Please be aware that phone numbers and email addresses can be “spoofed” to appear to be generated from a federal agency. We encourage you to continue to be extremely wary of unsolicited telephone or e-mail communications, particularly those that request personal information, contain a sudden offer of some prize or grant, or make monetary demands.
Complaints regarding fraud, waste, or abuse in the Department of the Treasury, excluding the IRS, may be reported at http://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/ig/Pages/OigOnlineHotlineForm.aspx.
Office of Counsel