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7 On Your Side: New Jersey couple's tax refund cashed by stranger in Texas

ABC 7 New York logo ABC 7 New York 9/22/2020 WABC
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The FBI reports the true cost of tax fraud tops $27 billion each year, but the real face of that fraud belongs to people like one New Jersey couple who had thousands of their hard-earned money sent to a scammer 1,600 miles away.

Frustrated by the feds' response, they e-filed for help from 7 On Your Side.

Instead of getting their tax refund check, Bob and Allyson Garrone have received six of the exact same IRS form letter over the last six months.

"They say, we're going to investigate what happened to our refund," Bob said.

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But the IRS investigation was never concluded, and the Garrones were left with no clue how their $5,500 refund check -- expected at their Wayne, New Jersey, address back in March -- wound up cashed by a stranger from Houston, Texas.

"It shows his signature, someone cashed it," Bob said. "We had to prove we're not that person. We have no connection."

That was back in April, when they first called the IRS to report the fraud. After getting the six form letters, Bob called the IRS in June.

"They told me to call fiscal services," he said. "They said wait 45 days."

In the meantime, medical bills were coming in for Allyson's recent bout beating breast cancer.

"I know people are going through so much worse things right now," Bob said.

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After waiting an additional month and a half, the couple called the IRS again.

"They had no record of us sending in the documentation of our case," Bob said. "They said call back in two weeks."

That's when Bob went ballistic and called 7 On Your Side. We called the Internal Revenue Service and cut through the red tape.

"We got our check," Bob said. "Thank you so much, really."

The best way to avoid fraud is to e-file your taxes, and make sure you check your bank routing and account numbers carefully.

If there's a problem, work with the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which troubleshoots disputes directly.

CLICK HERE for more information on how to report scams.

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