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Accounting News Roundup: ‘We’re accountants. We promised to never fight other accountants.’ | 10.07.16

IRS phone scams

I could never understand why these IRS phone scams kept going. At some point, I figured there'd be enough coverage and awareness that the operation would simply fizzle out. Boy, was I wrong! The big bust in Thane, India of the "scam center" reveals just how lucrative this operation has been and the offers they were making to potential employees:

Minaz Husain Ladaf couldn’t believe his luck this summer when he was offered a 40% bump in salary and other perks to work for what he thought was the U.S. government. But when he went to his new workplace to pick up his paycheck this week, he was picked up by the police instead.

Mr. Ladaf and dozens of fellow call-center workers have been locked in dusty jail cells in this booming Mumbai suburb since Wednesday. Police say they managed a telephone “scam center” where close to 700 workers called targeted Americans, pretending to be from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and raking in an estimated $150,000 a day.

[typing furiously on calculator] That's an estimated $54 million a year, making it a decent business. Except it was illegal. So now hundreds of employees of the company, MAC Outsourcing Services Private Limited, have to answer questions about what they were doing. Here's more on Mr. Ladaf's experience:

When he started work Aug. 1, he said, the owner informed him and the other new recruits that the company had won a contract with the U.S. government.

“He said that we just had to collect money,” said Mr. Ladaf. “He said we were getting data from a U.S. government department and that we were partners with them.”

He was given a long list of people to call, he said, but as almost every customer swore at him before slamming down the phone, he realized he was probably not actually working for the U.S. government. He was planning to quit after getting his paycheck on Tuesday, but when he got to work police were raiding the office.

I imagine in the IRS Scams, Inc. training videos there's a person explaining that "a large portion of Americans hate the IRS so it's likely they will swear at you and hang up." From there, I further imagine that the person in the video would tell trainees to not get discouraged and, "Just call the next name on the list and threaten them with jail time and losing their social security number." Who knows — maybe there aren't training videos. But there should've been! IRS Scams Inc. could've hired consultants from McKinsey or Bain or even Deloitte to shed some light on best practices for exploiting Americans' fears of the IRS. It seems that there's a lot of untapped value here.

The Accountant is almost here

If you're like me, you're counting down the days until The Accountant is released in theaters starring Ben Affleck. I'm mostly excited to see it because of a great trailer and a great cast. However, there's at least an outside chance the story will be terrible. If that's the case, I think some of the story ideas written by kids that were featured on The Tonight Show should be considered for future production:

One scenario allows a boy and girl played by Affleck and Fallon to grow up to be accountants who are also astronauts ― and say “I love you” to each other on the moon.

Another scene features them as accountants nearly coming to blows until Fallon’s character comes to his senses. “Wait, what are we doing?” he says. “We’re accountants. We promised to never fight other accountants.”

“Of course,” Affleck responds, “the accountants’ oath.”

Still sounds better than anything Hollywood is putting out right now.

Accountants behaving badly

It makes perfect sense why there are so many stories about accountants embezzling money from their employers: Accountants have access. They control the money and how much goes and where it goes. A child can understand this. So I'm a little surprised by this story featuring a woman who was more or less caught red-handed using her employer's credit card inappropriately and just played dumb:

Police said while working for Boat Brokers, [Carolyn] Clark reportedly used her employer’s company credit card to make a payment on a storage unit in her name. Police said she then transferred money from the company checking account to the credit card to attempt to conceal the payment.

Clark initially told police she received permission to make the payment using a company credit card from a coworker, but was later fired when the company’s owners found out. She further told police she intended to pay the money back and did not understand the allegations that she tried to cover up the transaction, as she did not have access to the company’s checking or savings accounts, police reports stated.

But it didn't stop there! Ms. Clark then "told officers she had accidentally used the card to make the payments while she was shopping online. It was declined and she received permission to make a second charge on another credit card later."

A protip (but not legal advice) for any accountants out there thinking about stealing from their employer: try to come up with a more plausible story than "I used it accidentally when shopping online."

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! Some reporters would just settle for the IRS letter that states Trump's tax returns "have been selected for examination" but the 6-foot guy wearing the scary pig mask still won't budge. If he doesn't whip them out in the first five minutes of the debate on Sunday I'm going to watch Westworld instead.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Lots to choose from on Open Items: Negotiating Salary with one Big 4 to Another; The Best Office Swag $1G Can Buy; What's the word on applying to a job at a client?

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