A U.S. grand jury has indicted 55 people for participating in scams that tried to bilk the U.S. government out of more than $250 million in undeserved tax refunds, U.S. prosecutors in California said on Monday.

Thirty-two indictments were returned by the grand jury accusing the people of various schemes to obtain the refunds. Millions of dollars were paid out, including a check worth almost $1.2 million, the prosecutors said.

The owners of one California company were accused of making presentations that claimed customers could get tax refunds from a secret government account after making payments to the company and agreeing to pay a percentage of any refunds they received, the prosecutors said.

More than 400 false tax returns were filed with the IRS as a result of the scheme allegedly run by a firm called Old Quest Foundation Inc. and another 35 were filed in a scheme allegedly run by another group, De la Fuente and Ramirez and Associates.

Among those charged were individuals who ran the businesses gave the seminars and obtained fraudulent tax refunds.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)