The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), St. Louis Field Office, are warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use the COVID-19 economic impact payments as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money.
Ron Parsons, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, and Karl A. Stiften, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), St. Louis Field Office, made the announcement today in an effort to prevent taxpayers from falling victim to criminals using the recently approved economic impact payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.
Automatic COVID-19 economic impact payments started being deposited into taxpayers’ accounts on April 11. For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account.
For the unbanked, retirees or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well.
Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or use this as an opportunity to get you to “verify” your filing information in order to receive your money, and then use your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme.
Because of this, everyone receiving a COVID-19 related economic impact payment from the government is at risk.
Karl A. Stiften, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI St. Louis Field Office warned “The existence of a deadly national pandemic will not stop criminals seeking to capitalize on the fears and difficulties faced by the public as they try to line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information.”
“All of us need to vigilant in these times to protect ourselves and our loved ones from being defrauded,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “You should report any suspicious activity to federal law enforcement immediately. If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19 or stimulus relief, you can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866- 720-5721 or via email at email@example.com.”
Special Agent in Charge Stiften offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.
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