As tax season begins, the IRS is warning of criminal scams

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As tax filing season begins Monday, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division is urging taxpayers to protect themselves from scams.

Some of these scams include questionable refund schemes, return preparation fraud, and abusive tax schemes, according to the agency.

“Tax crimes increase during filing season because criminals steal unknown taxpayer information, hack into the servers of CPA companies and tax preparation services and victimize unsuspecting taxpayers with false promises of huge tax refunds,” CI President Jim Lee said in a press release.

IRS Criminal Investigation is the law enforcement arm of the IRS.

In fiscal year 2023, the agency initiated 1,409 tax crime investigations and identified $5.5 billion in tax fraud, the IRS criminal investigation said. Six hundred and fifty-five defendants were sentenced for tax crimes during the last fiscal year.

One recent case involved a father-daughter duo who were defrauding unknown immigrants from their home in Iowa.

Photo: The United States flag flies over the International Revenue Service headquarters building on January 3, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

The United States flag flies over the IRS headquarters building on January 3, 2024, in Washington, DC

J. David Ackie/Getty Images, file

“They victimized hundreds of immigrants and refugees who worked in Iowa meatpacking facilities by claiming fraudulent tax credits and redirecting their customers’ tax refunds to their own accounts,” the statement read. Thein Maung and his daughter Phyu My were sentenced to 12 and 9 years in prison respectively.

In another scam, a man fraudulently filed more than 1,700 false tax returns, claiming a $9.1 million refund, ultimately resulting in a $2.2 million refund from the Internal Revenue Service. He then transferred the money to prepaid debit cards and checking accounts he was monitoring. The investigation revealed that Aracuson was tracking more than 700 accounts in the United States containing more than $50 million.

Ayodele Arasokun was sentenced to 34 years in prison.

To avoid being scammed, the agency says people should not use tax preparers who promise large refunds; Have a reputable tax professional sign and enter the PTIN on your tax return and provide you with a copy of the return for your records; And never sign a blank tax form.

The IRS also said to “never click” on links or attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your tax return or those claiming to be from the IRS.

Emails are fraudulent, contain malware and compromise personal information.

This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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