She was denied early release five times by a parole board even though she stayed out of trouble while incarcerated, and spent seventeen years behind bars before her release in 2008.

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Bringing the phone with me, I rushed out of the house, telling my son to come with me to drive and refusing him a moment to change out of his pajamas.

And if you think that you wouldn’t, you might consider what Stanford University scam expert Martha Deevy, Director of the Financial Security Division at the University’s Center on Longevity, has to say.

Just a few months ago, I had received notice that I owed about $700 in back taxes for income I’d forgotten to include on my 2013 return. ” Assured I had not been, he said there was one possibility — if he could obtain a 1099C form for out-of-court restitution for cancellation of debt. I told the man on the phone the police were calling me. But, he insisted, you must stay on the phone with me at all times until the process is completed. I’ve even reported on scams that cheated people out of big down payments on houses and tricked others into buying previously wrecked cars.

More recently, I filed my 2014 taxes, hoping I’d done them right. But this would be difficult to secure, and there was not much time. But the truth is that I fell for this scam — almost completely.

In fact, when Deevy received a voicemail from an IRS scammer herself, she said she had to listen to it four times before concluding it was not real.

“These guys,” she says, “are very good.” Unlike most scams that attempt to trigger the desire for gain, the IRS scam rests on something more deeply hardwired in the brain — the fear of loss, which Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and others have found, is a twice as powerful motivator.

People are quick to judge in these situations — if only because one does not want to imagine oneself being similarly vulnerable.

But in the end, I decided to swallow my pride in the hope that sharing the story might help someone else recognize this scam for what it is, before their fear triggers are similarly activated, at the risk of overwhelming usually more rational minds.

I received a call on my home phone recently from someone who identified himself as Officer Jason Dean with the Investigative Bureau of the Department of Treasury. In the car, the call came over the speaker, and when the caller put me on hold a few minutes later, I used my son’s cell to call Kate. But I was definitely operating on the premise that I needed to get to the bank before it closed to keep my options open. If it was real, I would have to access the funds that would keep me out of jail. He walked me over to the bank manager who explained: It used to be about lottery winnings. As I sipped a glass of water, and my rushing adrenalin began to subside, the whole thing suddenly seemed so obviously ridiculous.

He said an arrest warrant had been issued in my name for failure to respond to IRS Notice CP503 — a third reminder — informing me that I owed ,347 in back taxes. Within twenty seconds, he came back on and asked, “Who are you talking to? At a stoplight, I glanced at the texts that had come in from Kate: “Do not take money from the bank!!! And it was no surprise that when I got back on the phone, the alleged Investigator Maguire, who must have sensed this fish getting away, was no longer there.

It was around midnight and there was snow everywhere from a storm that had hit Rochester, New York, hard.