IRS warns about COVID-19 fraud, other financial schemes

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WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 15: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building stands on April 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. April 15 is the deadline in the United States for residents to file their income tax returns. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The IRS Criminal Investigation division has seen Economic Impact Payment scams and other financial schemes in the last few months that seek to take advantage of taxpayers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to using COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments as a way to obtain people’s money and personal information, scammers have tried to sell fake at-home COVID-19 tests, offered to sell fake cures, vaccines and pills and gave advice on unproven coronavirus treatments, according to an IRS news release.

Scammers have also set up fake charities to solicit donations for individuals and pushed phishing schemes related to stimulus checks via emails, letters, texts and links.

“Criminals try to take advantage of our most vulnerable times and our most vulnerable populations,” IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort said. “But because we have seen many of these criminals and schemes before, we know how to find them and we know how to expose them, and because COVID-19 is a global problem, it requires a global solution. Not only are we leveraging our financial investigative expertise domestically, we are working hand-in-hand with our J5 partners on those COVID-19 cases that cross borders. There truly is no place for criminals to hide.”

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