New variant on fake tax return scams

About 2 months back, my MIL phoned me because they got a check from such-and-such bank, for about 7,000 dollars, for the refund for their 2019 tax return. The cover note said that since their electronic deposit info had failed, they were sending a check.

Now, my MIL tends to want to fall for scams, but has actually learned to call us whenever anything questionable happens. She was really hoping that this was leftover from some prior year where they really did have income, but I reminded her that it specifically said “2019” so I knew that was not the case.

I did some quick googling - and the bank is legit - they issue check-based refunds when you file through TurboTax.

HOWEVER: my in-laws had NOT filed a 2019 tax return - they are not required to due to their income level. There is no way that they would have been entitled to a refund of that magnitude even if they had filed. FIL really wanted to take the check to the bank to ask if it was legit (the bank would have said yes) and then deposit it. He kept harping on doing that until we told MIL to take the check away, and write VOID on it.

So, I did some googling. Apparently the way this variation works is: you (victim) get the refund. Either direct-deposited, or via check. A few weeks later, the scammers call, claim to be the IRS, say “refund issued in error or as a result of fraud”, and demand an immediate return of the funds. The victim remits the funds - to the scammers - and then a while later the real IRS calls and wants the money back.

My brother is a part-time tax accountant and he hadn’t heard of this variant, so it’s somewhat new.

To add the cherry to the top of the sundae, the in-laws later got a letter from Intuit - asking them to remit the filing fee that was supposed to have been deducted from the refund (in hindsight, that check should have had the fee deducted already, so that’s puzzling).

We helped them file a request for prior years’ tax returns (so they can see a copy of what was filed), and also a fraud report. Dunno when they’ll get the prior year returns what with the COVID shutdown. Ditto on when the fraud will be followed up; I’m assuming that Intuit’s internal fraud team is working on things from their end.

### Fake Payments with Repayment Demands

Duplicate thread, have reported it to be closed.

I’m really confused. Who is the check from? Was the check from the IRS or the scammers?

I assume this is totally separate from the check but if they didn’t file taxes for 2019, why would they owe a filing fee to Intuit?

ETA, I get it now (read the link), it’s the scam where the scammers file a fake refund with your name/SSN. The difference here being that instead of getting the money directly, they’re having it sent to you and then demanding it back by pretending to be the IRS.

That sounds risky for the scammers. What if the victim does not “return” the money? (I guess they would end up giving it to the real IRS.)

Then the scammers are only out the time it took them to file the fake return.
Look at like this. I file taxes under the name Kimera757. I say that I made $50,000 and had $20,000 already withheld. They tell me that I’m owed a refund of $10,000 and they’ll deposit it to my checking account on file.

Now, I send you a threatening letter that looks like it’s from the IRS and request the you repay the $10,000. If you go through with it, I get $10k. If you don’t, I’m not out anything. Since you already kinda knew the refund was incorrect and the number on the letter is the same as the amount that you received, it appears the IRS is just fixing their mistake.