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IRS warns of tax scams

Targets are elderly and disabled

The Internal Revenue Service is warning Northern California residents of scams that targets the elderly and disabled.

IRS authorities have received reports of incidents in Fresno, Sacramento, Stockton, and places within the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose, but do not know the extent of the scam.

"These things are spreading," IRS spokesman Jesse Weller said. "We want to stop this before it spreads any further."

Elderly, low-income and disabled members of the Asian community in particular seem to be targeted in a refund scheme in which the con artist convinces the victim that he or she is eligible for a refund through the "Making Work Pay" tax credit.

This credit was issued in 2009 and 2010 to eligible working individuals based on wages, and taxpayers could receive up to $400 per person over the course of a year, Mr. Weller said.

The credit the scammers are touting is real but the victims in these cons were not employed and therefore not eligible for a refund. "If there's a grain of truth in something, it makes it seem more legitimate," he said.

The suspects then charge the victims hundreds of dollars in fees to prepare the bogus paperwork.

IRS authorities do not know if the suspects are the same in these scamming incidents or if other criminals are copying the con, Mr. Weller said.

A similar national scheme has also been seen in Northern California. This scam also preys on the elderly and claims to give refunds based on Social Security benefits.

Mr. Weller said there is no truth to these claims.

Suspects involved in the national scam tend to market their services in churches and by using handmade fliers.

The IRS is advising the public to be cautious and to verify claims at www.IRS.gov or by calling (800) 829-1040.

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