Virginian Hopkins, a waitress in downtown Cleveland, looks forward to receiving her IRS tax refund every year. This year, her expected refund of over $700 was supposed to go toward much needed car repairs. Much to her surprise, her refund check was nearly half a million dollars.

Despite receiving conflicting advice, Ms. Hopkins returned the check to the local IRS office. Most certainly the IRS would not have been so forgiving if she had “mistakenly” deposited the check into her bank account.

Hopkins heard mixed advice on whether or not to keep the money. But she decided to bring the check to the local IRS office, reasoning she would be arrested if she tried to cash it. “They’ll put me in Alcatraz, waiting on the night shift in Alcatraz,” she told WKYC-TV in Cleveland. “They’ll reopen the place.”

Surely it comes as no surprise that the IRS makes mistakes every once in a while, given the amount of tax returns it must process. It is hard to believe, however, that the IRS could made a mistake on such a large scale.

An IRS employee apologized, promising to investigate how the mistake happened, and to get another refund check sent to her quickly. Hopkins had been waiting expectantly for the $754 refund check to arrive as she needed the money for car repairs and other expenses. Her friends at the restaurant where she works, Johnny’s Downtown, and WKYC-TV have lent her the needed funds in the meantime.

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