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El Camino College Union

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How I got targeted with a scam

Illustration by Mason Hardison

Illustration by Mason Hardison

Illustration by Mason Hardison

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It’s finals week and I was stressed on finishing up my essays and studying for final exams.

This was the perfect moment to catch a vulnerable student and get paid.

I received a phone call and usually If I don’t know the number I would ignore it, if it’s important I would receive a voicemail.

I was left with a voicemail, so it must be important.

The voicemail stated, “Alexis Causey, you have a warrant for your arrest to avoid this please call the IRS back at this number.”

So I called back and someone answered immediately.

The person on the other end of the line told me he was an officer gave me his name, badge number, and my case number.

Then he proceeded to tell me I had violated three constitutional laws and I owed $3,540 in debt to IRS and if I did not comply with them today I would be arrested on the spot.

I was scared and in a panic, I asked myself, “How can I not go to jail?”

He then told me you can pay off everything today to avoid jail time.

I only had $3,000 in my account and let him know I was only able to pay off $2,000 today.

The “officer” told me it was OK and the way to pay was through Target gift cards.

That should have been the red flag, it seemed suspicious to pay in gift cards but in a panic, I proceeded on my quest to pay my supposed debt off.

In the end, I took three different Uber rides, going to different Targets around the area.

I bought 4 separate gift cards, each containing $500 each.

Finally I came to my senses and asked them, “why would the IRS payment through Target gift cards?”

He responded, “The IRS has a relationship with Target.”

On the back of Target gift cards there is an 15 digit card number and an access code and I proceeded to give him the information on all the cards.

After I gave the information they told me to pay off the rest to visit the IRS office an Van Nuys and I have an appointment around 8:30 a.m.

Getting off the phone I was crying hysterically,

I saw a familiar face and it turned out to be one of my best friends and her mother.

I told them the situation and they told me it was a scam and these people target college students who believe they have debt from loans they pulled out.

I went home immediately reported my cards stolen fortunately, the money was still available on the card.

From the whole situation I learned:

  • The IRS will never call you, they will bill you a letter
  • Target and IRS do not have a relationship
  • You can not pay your debt off with Target or prepaid gift cards
  • The IRS will never threaten to bring law enforcement if you do not comply

Here the IRS shares awareness on phone scams and how to report them.

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The student news site of El Camino College
How I got targeted with a scam