I’ve been involved in the fight against identity thieves for close to 20 years.
As part of that battle, on several different occasions I developed and operated sting operations for the federal government to catch identity thieves, illegal “information brokers” and unethical private investigators.
And, on more than one occasion, those sting operations recorded the bad guys as they tried to steal personal information that they wanted to sell to anyone willing to pay for it.
While the tapes of my sting operations are all in the control of the United States Congress and the federal agencies I assisted, a similar recording of an identity thief pretending to be working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was recently released to the Washington Post.
This is a great opportunity for members of the Self-Reliance Institute to listen to one of these schemes in action. And while most everyone who listens will be surprised that anyone would fall for such a scam, the sad reality is that good people fall prey to this type of fraud every day.
The reason is that we all have vulnerable moments when a well-orchestrated act of fraud may catch us off-guard.
Here’s what Josh Hicks at The Washington Post wrote in, “Listen to the ‘largest ever’ phone scam involving IRS impersonators,” about this scam that has identity thieves posing as IRS agents.
“Treasury officials have warned of a widespread and sophisticated phone scam involving callers who impersonate Internal Revenue Service representatives and demand immediate payments with pre-paid debit cards and wire transfers.
“IRS inspector general Russell George described the ruse as the “largest ever” of its kind last month, noting that thousands of victims had already lost more than $1 million through the ploy.
“Pindrop Security recorded one of the calls in which a scammer contacted a company representative who posed as a victim. The fraud-detection firm kindly allowed the Federal Eye to publish the conversation, which appeared on the company’s blog along with an analysis revealing a few new details about the plot.”
To listen to either the entire recording of the identity thieves in action or selected excerpts of the recording, you can go to the Washington Post article that contains the recordings by clicking –>HERE.
As Hicks notes in the Washington Post piece, and as I’ve mentioned in earlier Self-Reliance Institute Advisories:
“The callers largely target immigrants and threaten them with deportation, but they have recently expanded their efforts to all taxpayers, according to federal officials.” [emphasis added]
Again, when you listen to the recordings, you’ll find it hard to believe that anyone would fall for the scam.
Yet, as Pindrop Security has learned, one of the ways that these thieves convince innocent Americans that they are calling from the IRS is to use “Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services, which basically allow phone conversations to take place over the internet. The scammers use this to pretend they are calling locally or from an IRS’s assistance number: 1-800-829-1040.”
Unfortunately, the use of VOIP to transmit false phone numbers that are displayed on the victims’ Caller ID system is not a new trick.
In fact, in February 2006 – more than eight years ago – I testified before committees of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and warned of Caller ID “spoofing” being used by a wide-range of criminals to deceive victims about who is calling them.
Caller ID spoofing is so widespread, there are companies that advertise their Caller ID spoofing services on the web. For an example, check out –> SpoofCard.
While I testified back in 2006 that these services would multiply and provide criminals with a means to enhance their identity theft schemes, Congress didn’t listen to me and allowed these services to remain legal.
So, I’m not surprised that the federal government is now learning that Caller ID spoofing is playing a role in one of the fastest growing methods of identity theft.
But, for now, the most important step I can take is to warn members of the Self-Reliance Institute of these types of phone-enhanced scams and the role Caller ID spoofing plays in the scams.
I hope you’ll warn your friends and family of this fraudulent activity so they don’t become victims.
Freedom Writers Publishing
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Steamboat Springs, CO 80487