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Originally published Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 8:00 PM

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IRS is warning that con artists are targeting retirees in new tax scam

The scheme involves people promising refunds to people who made little or no money and who wouldn't usually file a return.

Sun Sentinel

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Retirees should beware of a new scheme in which they are tempted by unscrupulous people to file federal tax returns for refunds they don't deserve, said an Internal Revenue Service spokesman.

The scheme involves people promising refunds to people who made little or no money and who wouldn't usually file a return, according to an IRS statement.

"Promoters claim they can obtain for their victims, often senior citizens, a tax refund or nonexistent stimulus payment based on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, even if the victim was not enrolled in or paying for college," the IRS warned.

Sometimes con artists tell people they can claim the money even though they went to school decades ago. In other cases, some people are falsely told they can claim the college tuition credit because they've paid taxes on groceries.

Recently, the tax agency has been able to stop thousands of the bogus refund checks.

"The scheme can still be quite costly for victims," according to the IRS. "Promoters may charge exorbitant upfront fees to file these claims and are often long gone when victims discover they've been scammed.

"The IRS is reminding people to be careful because all taxpayers, including those who use paid tax preparers, are legally responsible for the accuracy of their returns, and must repay any refunds received in error."

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