By Sabina Mollot
Scam callers purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Department of the Treasury have been duping people around the country in increasing numbers by threatening them with lawsuits, liens and even arrest, as Town & Village has previously reported this year. Our coverage was after waves of calls targeted the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village neighborhoods, the caller consistently leaving a cryptic message in a robotic voice, demanding call backs — or else.
But now, there appears to be a slight variation in tactics.
Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, who was one of the targets threatened with arrest in a Department of the Treasury Scam a few months back (she didn’t call back), told T&V on Friday, June 24, she got a similar call. Like the earlier one, the caller claimed an enforcement action before the United States Treasury. But this time, there was a real person’s voice on the other end, supposedly belonging to someone named Kevin Mason. His number was 914-373-7079 and his last sentence before ending the call was “Call us back and help us help you.” (Again, Steinberg didn’t call this number.)
T&V’s editor, the author of this article, did call back the number, however, and was promptly threatened with five years in the big house by “Jordan Smith.”
Smith, who spoke with an accent that was possibly Indian answered by saying, “Hello, U.S. Department of Treasury. This is Jordan Smith.” (It’s actually the Department of the Treasury.)
T&V’s Sabina Mollot: I was told this phone number is a scam so what it is you’re really doing?
Smith: What I can do is bring documentation over to your address and take you into custody for the next five years.
T&V: And do what for the next five years?
Smith: Take you to jail for the next five years.
(He then hung up. We then called the 13th Precinct.)
A quick call to the U.S. Department of the Treasury also confirmed that the department “does not contact individual tax payers via unsolicited phone calls.”
Additionally, a warning on the agency’s website notes, “There are numerous telephone and email scams in which individuals claim to be employees of the Treasury Department. These scammers often state that they are from the ‘Department of Legal Affairs,’ offer grant money in exchange for you wiring a small payment, or threaten to arrest you within a short period of time unless payment is made. Do not provide personal information or payment to these individuals.”
Meanwhile, over the past week a number of people who got a call from the aforementioned phone number wrote about the experience in comments on the website 1-800-database.com.
As one commenter wrote, “I also got a phone call from this number……….scam all the way! Yeah same name, Kevin Mason! I hope he’s sitting, cause if he’s waiting for our return phone call standing, he’s going to be very tired!” A user named John added, “Yep received same call I called back and told the woman that I knew it was a scam and handing # over to FBI. She hung up. Block #.”