How else does one keep work interesting and exciting? Sometimes opportunities just fall into your lap; take the IRS’ new entirely Indian-staffed Criminal Investigative service. They’ll be calling a number near you soon given it’s tax season here in the United States. Thank goodness they are keeping our country safe and keeping our taxpayer coffers full. They called my friend’s phone at work a week ago, letting him know via an automated robo-message that in fact he was delinquent on his tax returns for several years, and that a warrant was being issued for his arrest. Sounds legit; the IRS, like all government agencies, are well known to be in the business of letting you know you’re in legal trouble via the phone and not the mail, of course. Anyhow, we did the only thing logical to do in that kind of situation–we called back the number, a Washington D.C. area code. After a few rings a man in a thick-Indian accent picked up the phone, the background filled with the noise of distant chatter and other kinds of static. The Indian investigator answered unsure of himself, likely trying to remember some poorly rehearsed script and lacking any amount of confidence in his job title of “IRS Criminal Investigator.” “Hello, IRS, Department of Criminal Investigation Service” he answered. My friend tried on an East Asian accent, pretending to be bewildered as to the tax fraud and generally trying to sound as confused as possible. “Hello, you have tax file? I not understand how you say I tax fraud. I confused, you sure this IRS?”

The Indian investigator said “We have all your records and you are in a lot of trouble. There will be a warrant for your arrest. Do you want us to file the warrant?” What a friendly investigator, having the kindness to ask us if we would like the warrant filed or not. My friend played the role of a confused Asian person well, and after enough confusion and accent attempting, the Indian investigators started mimicking my friend’s East Asian accent themselves, a strange turn of events. The call soon ended–I guess he asked too many questions–the warrant could probably wait anyhow. Soon after, a new number dialed, this one from Florida; the same robo-call, and alter-ego John Henry called back. John Henry is a no nonsense United States veteran, and demanded to know what was going on with this tax fraud situation. He must have been too-intense for the Indians, as they hung up the phone quickly–and again when John Henry called back, even angrier than before, sternly telling the Indians call center “I do not appreciate being hung up on. What kind of IRS office hangs up on people?”

After a few more tries we called back the next day, this time my friend using his normal voice. He continued to play dumb, stating that he would do anything he could to fix this situation, to pay whatever they wanted him to pay. I tried my hand at my own voices here and there–a Texan/redneck/some variation thereof–but my calls always ended far sooner–I simply couldn’t contain myself from laughing and holding an accent without my voice cracking.

This time the goal was just to figure out how far we could taken this scam by pretending to offer to pay them our hard-earned money. You’d think it would be easy, trying to give a scammer your money. Not these Indian fellows though–apparently they need to work on their routine. After offering to pay, the Indians seemed confused and danced around the issue of paying now or having the fraud charge go to the courts. My friend stated he would pay, and was then told “You must have your lawyer call us.” Thinking “What kind of scammer asks someone to have their lawyer call? Why would any scammer ever want to bring someone from the legal profession into the conversation?” Enter me, the lawyer, holding a conversation only using my normal everyday voice as well. After a bit of back and forth, with them still not sure how we could pay the money, I suddenly yelled into the phone at the top of my lungs, telling the scammers I was going to do some choice things to their skull, which I said would only occur after I relocated their mouth onto a curb edge with some choice foot-action. All a facade and, though mean, I don’t feel bad in having yelled at people whose intent is to take people’s money–mostly from the elderly. My friend called back, apologizing for his crazy lawyer, and finally got some kind of answer of how to pay: an impossible to use online system thing through which we could somehow process a payment to them. At this point it became clear that we were dealing with what might be the world’s worst scammers. Not only were they terrible actors trying to portray IRS agents, but they seemingly were never prepared for the possibility that someone might pay, or hadn’t worked out how to take some kind of payment. A bit of fun on an otherwise dreary Washington Monday afternoon.

Mt. Rainier

Strange weather has been afoot in Washington. This past week included two full days of sun, and hospital rooms reported a sudden spike in cases of light-induced blindness and flash sunburns due to a several-month long lack of sun-skin contact.

 

Sunset Tacoma Narrows Bridge Puget Sound View Tacoma Narrows Bridge View looking south Tacoma Bridge

 

While driving around on a sunny day, it’s hard not to notice Mt. Rainier and, for me, to wonder what Native and other peoples used to think of such mountains which appear to come from nowhere to tower over the surrounding landscape as some great god holding dominion. It’s easy to imagine some level of worship being offered to such mountains, maybe even sacrifices. It sure as hell resembles some kind of ancient earth spirit creature when you see it in-person–it quite truly appears to come from nowhere. In the distant or perhaps not-so-distant past, it probably even erupted and wreaked havoc on the landscape. But it hasn’t lately, and I began wondering, why? Each Summer–and presumably other times of year–brave bands of intrepid mountain climbers set out to scale the beast’s icy, snow-capped sides, and some even make it to the top. But every once in awhile, usually every year, a few people die up on Mt. Rainier in avalanches or due to freezing to death. Is there a link between Mt. Rainier not erupting in almost 200 years and these sacrificial climbers? If gods exist in such a form, I would bet there is. Thank you, brave mountain climbers, for keeping the Seattle area safe from this demanding volcano-god.

 

Mt. Rainier Tacoma Narrows Bridge

 

Here are some picture from in and around Port Angeles:

 

Port Angeles Pier East Sleepy Port Angeles from the Pier Port Angeles Pier and water Port Angeles Pier View