OGDEN — The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers about a new scam that tries to trick people into claiming fraudulent refunds on their tax returns.
The scam artists promise refunds to people who normally aren’t required to file for taxes because they have little or no income, which means senior citizens tend to be the targets, according to a news release from the IRS.
The scam artists claim they can get the victim a tax refund or a nonexistent stimulus payment because of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps pay for college expenses.
They make this claim even if the victim is not in college or paying for it, and they usually tell the victims that they are eligible for the refund even if they went to school decades ago.
“This is a disgraceful effort by scam artists to take advantage of people by giving them false hopes of a nonexistent refund,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a statement.
Falling for the scam can be costly.
Sometimes the con artists may charge the victim large upfront fees to file the claims. The victims also have to pay back any refunds that turn out to be fraudulent, plus penalties and interest.
The IRS also has seen a variation of this scam in which the con artists trick the victim into believing a credit is available for paying taxes on groceries.
The con artists are usually long gone by the time victims figure out they’ve been scammed.
The IRS said it has identified and stopped thousands of these bogus refund claims coming in from across the country in the past few weeks. The IRS is investigating the people behind the scheme, and the scam artists may be charged.
Ogden Police Lt. Tony Fox advises people not to give out personal information over the phone to people they don’t know and to be wary of unfamiliar area codes.
SALT LAKE CITY — The state Division of Consumer Protection warned Monday about a fake Walmart gift card text.
Francine A. Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, said residents have reported receiving text messages on cellphones claiming they have won a $1,000 Walmart gift card but need to enter a code word on a website to receive the prize.
Investigators found that once a consumer entered information into the website, it asked the user to download a free software program that would record all keystrokes on a computer.
Downloading the software would give hackers access to personal information, including bank account passwords and other identifying information.
Walmart confirmed that the company was not the source of the text messages.
Division investigators found that the phone number sending the texts from a “202” area code was probably from a prepaid cellphone and the website domain was registered in the Bahamas.