The Internal Revenue Service is warning Ohioans to be on the lookout for a scam in which they are persuaded to file a false income tax return with the promise of a large tax refund.
The scam, which has targeted elderly residents in the Midwest, has now spread to Ohio, an IRS news release says.
The victim, typically a senior citizen, is duped into paying someone to file an unneeded tax return -- not only losing that money, but opening the door for identity theft.
“Scammers are posing as tax return preparers, targeting the elderly and others receiving Social Security benefits. The scammers promise large tax refunds, and lure unsuspecting victims into paying for the preparation and filing of fraudulent tax returns claiming false withholding, credits, refunds or rebates,” said Jennifer Jenkins, IRS spokeswoman.
The IRS has noted an increase in tax-return-related scams involving unsuspecting seniors and others who normally do not have a filing requirement in the first place.
These taxpayers are led to believe they should file a return with the IRS for money to which they are not entitled.
The scam moved from Erie, PA to Ohio this summer, the IRS said.
Fliers and ads for free money from the IRS have been circulated at community organizations, including churches and organizations that assist seniors.
The fliers suggest that taxpayers can file a return and get a refund with little or no documentation.
In the end, victims of these scams discover their claims are rejected or the refund barely exceeds what they paid the scam promoter. Meanwhile, their money and the promoters are long gone.
Anyone victimized or approached by these scam promoters should contact the local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. Others with questions about tax credits or refunds can visit the IRS website or call the IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040.
This scam alert follows in which the IRS learned people re receiving emails claiming their electronic tax payments were rejected.
The email directed victims to a bogus link that downloads malicious software, allowing the con artist to retrieve personal information.