READY: Having fun with what’s-his-name Hussein?

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Mary Ready

The caller ID on my phone indicated “Private Caller.” That always annoys me. But I’ve learned that sometimes government and civic agencies call that way. So, I answer, already a little paranoid to hear an accent so thick I can barely understand a word over the boiler room sounds in the background. What I do hear after making the caller repeat himself several times is that this is either “Solomon,” “Sulimann,” or “Soulman” Hussein, or maybe his last name was “Assassin” or “Insane.”  

Claiming to be from the IRS, he just might be the real deal even with a name like that and an outrageous Indian accent. Call me a bigot, but in these days of diversity and lack of government common sense, it’s feasible their agents would have incomprehensible accents and little familiarity with the English language. 

What’s-his-name tells me he is from the legal department of the IRS, and I am being sued for tax fraud after ignoring two certified warning letters. Seems I owe $895 on one suit and $1,110 on the other one. But not to worry, I can settle up with them by calling 1-844-241-7999 to pay by phone before they come to arrest me, take my house, my car, and seize my bank accounts.   

Having nothing better to do, I talk with the guy and let him think I’m “buying” this scam. I tell him my taxes are in order, and I have an excellent accountant.  But I assure him I will write a check in the full amount to avoid a problem and request an address to send the money. He says the IRS doesn’t accept checks, only credit cards. I inform him my credit card is with the First National Bank of Lithuania. That’s fine with him. I will be happy to give him that card number over the phone AFTER I receive written notification of the law suits in a certified government document. I give him a fake address to send all correspondence. He keeps saying he’s already done that, and I wasn’t home to sign for it. I tell him I’m on house arrest and can’t go anywhere so I would’ve been home to receive the mail.   

I helpfully tell him to work on his English skills and his presentation if he wants to be taken seriously as an IRS agent. I ask him for his ID number, and he says it’s 844-241-7999. I tell him that’s his call back number, and that area code 844 is not in the U.S. current system of area codes. He seems confused by that, but not deterred in his aggressiveness. He just keeps threatening me.

After awhile, I grow bored with the banter, thank him for the entertainment, and hang up. Immediately he calls back and says, “Why you hang up on me?” I tell him I hung up so I could call the real IRS and report his scam call. Now, he hangs up.

While I’m on the phone with the IRS Inspector General’s office (only 59 minutes on hold), my call waiting shows it’s the Hussein (?) guy again. Sure enough, after registering my complaint, I play back his voice message. Again, I’m told to call that 844 area code number immediately or the police will come to arrest me in 24 hours. I have to give it to the rascal; he’s PERSISTENT.  

The next morning at 6 a.m., the call comes in again. The threats are repeated but end in “God bless you and have a nice day.” That’s a sure-fire clue this is NOT a real government call. Lois Lerner, the disgraced former IRS official, would never have permitted such a benediction. 

Since I enjoyed messing with this fake IRS agent, I’m passing along a website which instructs on how to have fun with all sorts of scam callers. It’s 419Eater.com.

This site advises how to participate in the cyber-sport of scambaiting.

So what is scambaiting? It consists of entering into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their time and resources. While doing so, “you’ll be helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims and screwing around with the minds of deserving thieves.”

Even newcomers to the game can expect to have a great time as well as providing a public service.  Hilarious and useful baiting tips are listed on the site as well as information on how to report the scammers to the appropriate government agency.

I am reminded of the famous Abraham Lincoln quote (but sometimes attributed to P.T. Barnum): “You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”

May we all fall into that third category where greedy con artists are concerned.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.