FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The April 15th tax deadline may be over but con-artists are still coming up with new ways to beat the system.
Paige Band thought the IRS must be mistaken because the 20-year-old had never filed taxes before, and that was the key to this scheme.
"Someone took my information and filed two fraudulent tax returns under my name," said Band.
Investigators said someone with access to her college files stole her personal information then filed past tax returns.
"So, whenever they do actually get a job and go file a legitimate return for that year they are not going to know a tax return was filed on their behalf a year or two prior," said Jason Thomasson, US Postal Inspector.
"I would have never caught it. Why would I have any reason to look back at any of my tax returns because I knew what I filed," said Band.
The scheme went undiscovered for years until an audit of a check cashing business showed a large amount of treasury checks being cashed. Three people were arrested in connection to the scheme-- Tanya Edwards, Ronald Chisholm, and Mark Jones.
Chisholm and Jones are linked to more than 600 false tax returns filed between 2009 and 2014.
"Mark Jones was very smart, very intelligent, the scam that he was pulling involved a lot of moving parts by getting the numbers correct for the IRS," said Thomasson.
Inspectors said it is imperative for all of us to safeguard our personal information.
"You can get one free credit report from each of the three agencies every year. I would suggest getting this at least once a year and looking through it and making sure there is nothing out of the ordinary," said Thomasson.
The three defendants in this case have pleaded guilty and were found guilty during the trial.
Tanya Evans is serving more than seven years in prison. Mark Jones is serving around 10 years and Robert Chisholm was sentenced to 18 years in prison.