Tax refund rip-off: Family refunded

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
and Ann Pistone
Friday, October 06, 2017 10:32PM
A south suburban couple is getting their stolen tax refund back thanks in part to the ABC7 I-Team.


PLAINFIELD, Ill. - A south suburban couple is getting their stolen tax refund back thanks in part to the ABC7 I-Team.

The Links were using popular software to file their tax return when they became victims of high tech thieves. Now, seven months later, their money is back where it belongs.

"Everybody looks forward to a tax refund check to either pay bills or put in your savings, and we're seniors now," Madeline Link said.

Madeline and John Link were counting the days since tax season to get their federal refund check for more than $2,200.

Jason Knowles: "So someone had your hard-earned money, now you have it back."
John Link; "I feel that going through Channel 7 and the I-Team, that this was a factor with us getting our refund."
JK: "And when you opened it, what'd you think?"
JL: "It was more than we thought it would be because they sent it with interest."

In April, the I-Team exposed how the Links fell victim to fraud. Hackers somehow changed the bank account information in their TurboTax software, so when the Links filed their return the money went to crooks.

Intuit, the creator of TurboTax, said it "has implemented additional security measures in TurboTax, including stronger passwords, multi-factor authentication and customer notices and alerts."

"It's still scary this happened to us. We never thought in all the years we have been married that someone could get ahold of your information and take it from you. We never had that happen," Madeline said.

After the I-Team started asking questions, Intuit started investigating and discovered that the Links were warned about that deposit number via email, but those emails went to the Links' junk account.

Then the IRS sent a letter to the Links confirming a federal investigation.

"I kept checking on 'Where's My Refund,' the service that the IRS provides to find out where your refund is. Every day we would be checking and every day they would be telling that it is being processed," John said.

Besides the $2,200 in federal money, the Links also ended up getting their state refund back for another $326.

"I'm very excited, because I had given up hope," Madeline said.

The Department of Treasury and the IRS say they have made investigating refund fraud and ID theft a top priority. No word on if the hackers in this case were caught, but the IRS said it is vigilant in the investigations of these schemes.

Tax theft articles that can help you keep your money safe:

Identity Theft Remains on "Dirty Dozen" List of Tax Scams; IRS, States, Tax Industry Urge People to be Vigilant Against Criminals

Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts: https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts

Tax Time Guide: Protect Personal, Financial, Tax Information and Computers

IRS, States and Tax Industry Combat Identity Theft and Refund Fraud on Many Fronts
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