WASHINGTON, DC - Every year during tax season, scammers find new ways to steal money from taxpayers. In response, every year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes a list of common scams to help taxpayers avoid fraud.
This year the IRS is warning about a scam that promises fake tax refunds and targets senior citizens and low-income individuals. The agency says that in recent weeks this scam has been increasingly reported across the country.
Scam Offers Free Money - Scam artists promise tax refunds which are supposedly part of The American Opportunity Tax Credit, originally designed to help people with college expenses. They claim incorrectly that the refund is available, even if the person attended college decades ago.
In a twist, they are also telling victims that they can benefit from this credit if they even paid taxes on groceries while attending college.
The IRS says scam artists have been looking for potential victims at church gatherings and are targeting senior citizens and people with little or no income who don't usually have to file taxes.
Victims Pay a High Cost - People who fall for these scams have a lot to lose.
For starters, they pay high fees for bogus tax preparing services. And when they figure out they have been scammed, criminals usually have already disappeared with their money.
"This is a disgraceful effort by scam artists to take advantage of people by giving them false hopes of a nonexistent refund," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a statement. "We want to warn innocent taxpayers about this new scheme before more people get trapped."
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