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Tampa woman discovers crook stole her stimulus money

By Shannon Behnken,


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Andrea Alvarez is close to her mother-in law, Yolanda Alvarez. So, when Yolanda’s first stimulus check didn’t arrive during the pandemic, Andrea reached out to the IRS and eventually found out what happened.

“That’s when they discovered the identity theft,” Alvarez said. “Someone had been using her number, filing tax returns under her number, and the stimulus check was going to the account that showed up on these tax returns.”

That was back in February 2021. She says the IRS opened an ID theft investigation and said she could still get the stimulus check.

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“They said in order for them to reissue this to the right person she had to do a tax return for 2020 a long with identity theft affidavit and they would then reissue for that.,” Alvarez said. “But they said since ID theft was involved it would take probably about six months.”

All three stimulus checks were deposited into someone else’s account.

“In February 2022, we get another letter from IRS saying that someone had filed a tax return again under her number,” she said. “They determined now the third stimulus had been issued to the wrong account.”

“They said, oh well it’s going to be 270 days, waited for that and then they said ok the maximum time is 350 days, and this should be settled, she should have something. Well, today we’re on the 495th day.”

Enough is enough. The Alvarez women called me to help make their voices louder. I reached out to the IRS and was told the women need to be patient.

“I would ask for a supervisor, a manager, they said there was no one else I could talk to. They could just send another referral and I would have to keep waiting.”

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Investigator Shannon Behnken reached out to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, and she sent this statement:

“Emergency economic impact payments were a lifeline for many neighbors, and it is heart wrenching to hear about neighbors who experienced stolen payments. My team is in contact with the family, and it is my hope that we will be able to get this payment into the right hands and hold the thief who stole the funds accountable. We continue to press the IRS to ensure that Tampa Bay Area neighbors receive the money they are owed.”

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