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Texas tax fraud scheme is heavy on humbug

Like Scrooge before his conversion, the IRS is not too inclined to give anyone a break just because it's Christmas time - even someone who has been victimized by a tax fraud scheme.

Here in Texas, many senior citizens succumbed to such a scheme. The scam targeted the seniors' Social Security and disability benefits by leading them to believe they could get additional benefits under a (bogus) federal stimulus program.

Once the victims had given out their Social Security numbers or other personal information, the scammers used it to file fraudulent tax returns. The scammers were able to use these returns to obtain the seniors' tax refunds. They kept half of it and let their victims' have the other half.

That is bad enough. But to make matters worse, the scammers got the victims in trouble with the IRS. The agency has been demanding repayment from them of the entire tax refund, as well interest and penalties.

Investigators say that nearly 200 people in East Texas have been affected. Many of the victims are low-income people who struggle to make ends meet. Now they are not only in debt to the IRS, but also could be at risk of further identity theft schemes by the scammers who wrongly obtained their personal information.

The problem has come to the attention of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. He is warning Texans to be wary of scams like this. If you feel you have been victimized, the AG says filing a police report would be a good place to start.

That is no doubt true. Keep in mind, however, that local police do not specialize in resolving problems with the IRS.

Source: "Tax Scammers Ruining Christmas for the Elderly," Austinist, Alejandra Ramirez-Ed, 12-20-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our IRS collection page.


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