Thieves are using phishing and other schemes to steal client data from tax professionals. Then, using that data, they file fraudulent tax returns and use the taxpayers' real bank accounts to deposit erroneous tax refunds. Finally, the thieves, posing as IRS or other law enforcement, call attention to the error and ask taxpayers to return the money to them.
Why are thieves going to such lengths? They know it is more difficult to identify and halt fraudulent tax returns when they are using real client data such as income, dependents, credits, and deductions. Additionally, it's harder to track when criminals can find alternative ways to get the fraudulent refunds delivered to themselves rather than the real taxpayers - no more stealing checks out of mailboxes.
If this happens to you - and you do have a bogus tax refund in your bank account - here's how the IRS wants you to return the funds and avoid being scammed: