EXCLUSIVE: Homeless forced to wait for stimulus checks as company attributes delays to IRS

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
EXCLUSIVE: Homeless forced to wait for stimulus checks; here's why
For the second month in a row, a company that promised to facilitate getting stimulus payments to homeless people failed to provide the checks, citing an IRS crackdown on fraud.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Thousands of unhoused people hoping a stimulus check would give them a boost this new year may have to wait a little longer.

A new company set up to help the homeless apply for pandemic relief advertised that checks would be distributed this past Sunday. For the second month in a row, it didn't happen. It's a story you'll only see on ABC7.

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A small crowd began gathering before 9 a.m. Sunday by a railroad track next to a homeless shelter in San Jose.

Many of these same people showed up last month after being told the checks would be distributed then.

"Nobody was here. So I called the number and they called me that evening and they assured me they would be here today," said Robert Perez, who is homeless in San Jose.

Docuprep told 7 On Your Side last month it canceled the December event after a mailbox company refused to release the checks, suspecting fraud.

It also says US Bank declined to allow them to deposit the checks for the same reason.

Docuprep had planned to convert the $1,200 checks to debit cards, distributing $800 to each applicant and keeping $400 for itself.

WATCH: Company promising to help South Bay homeless receive stimulus checks fails to deliver on promises

A group of homeless people in the South Bay say a company that promised to deliver stimulus checks to them failed to distribute them as promised.

15 minutes past Sunday's scheduled 9 a.m. start time, three security guards showed up, followed by Docuprep representatives.

Wei E. is a volunteer with a Mountain View nonprofit which assists the homeless, Hope's Corner. She says the fee was a bit high, but overall the intent is good.

"Those unhoused people may not have signed up for anything, at least now they have a chance," said Wei.

Jared Jones of Docuprep held a list of what he said was 7,200 applicants who applied for stimulus checks with the help of the company.

He said the IRS rejected 60 percent of the applicants, including Raphael Arellano.

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"It says it was actually rejected and it says the Social Security number didn't match. Now most of the time we see that it's a typo," Jones said to Arellano.

Arellano is told to call the IRS to correct his Social Security number.

He isn't concerned.

"I'm just a happy man. That's all I am," Arellano said.

Jones told Wei he had no checks to distribute, even to those who were approved. He says the IRS refused to release the checks to Docuprep.

"Because of all the EDD fraud. They want to make sure it's legit," Jones explained.

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He told Josephine Gali to call the IRS to claim her check.

"I am very happy that I received the check. And get myself out of the street," she said.

The IRS, which last month confirmed it was investigating Docuprep, declined to comment for this story.

The company says it will now waive all fees and people will be able to get their entire stimulus payment.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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