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Beware these 'dirty dozen' tax scams that can cost you big and even land you in jail

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Inflated refund claims
Inflated refund claims | Mark Edward Atkinson/Getty Images

Inflated refund claims

Have you run across someone who says you can get free money when you file taxes? Steer clear.

Tax con artists who claim they can get filers free money from the IRS based on fictitious Social Security benefits or false tax credit claims find enough gullible victims to keep this egregious tax scam on the dirty dozen list.

The IRS says con artists specializing in these schemes tend to target low-income individuals and the elderly. The scam typically appears as fliers advertising free money from the IRS. They usually are posted in churches, and then the word spreads by unsuspecting and well-intentioned people who want to share the news with friends and family.

The scam perpetrator gets taxpayer hopes up, collects money to file the fake claims and then is long gone by the time victims learn their claims are rejected.

"Exercise caution when a return preparer promises an extremely large refund or one based on credits or benefits you've never been able to claim before," says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

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