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Press Release

United States Attorney’s Office and IRS warn of possible economic impact payment scams

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman and Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Cincinnati Field Office, Bryant Jackson, warned Ohioans today to be alert for possible scams related to upcoming economic impact payments made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone should expect that scammers will try to take advantage of this crisis and the upcoming economic impact payments,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “They will try to find a way to get recipients to divulge personal information such as a Social Security number or bank account information. Alternatively, fraudsters may try to pressure recipients into making phony payments or otherwise relinquishing funds.  We are strongly encouraging everyone to be on high alert, both before and after the payments arrive, for potential scams.”

“Ruthless criminals will take this opportunity to prey upon our fears in order to try and line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced this week that COVID-19 economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks. For many Americans, this will be done through direct deposit into their bank account. For the unbanked, elderly or other groups that have traditionally seen receive tax refunds via paper check, economic impact payments will be received similarly.

United States Attorney Herdman and Special Agent in Charge Jackson offer the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.

  • The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
  • The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your check. It's a scam.
  • If you receive a call, don't engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it's a scam, or you think that you can beat them. Just hang up.
  • If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don't click on any links in those emails.
  • Be on the look-out for bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud - it will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.
  • Scammers will often attempt to trick you into signing over your stimulus check or pressure you into “verify” your filing information in order to receive your money. They will then use your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns.

Report fraud related to the COVID-19 crisis to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or email tips to the United States Attorney’s Office at

For more information, visit the IRS website at



Daniel Ball

Updated April 2, 2020

Financial Fraud