"This isn't reserved for dead infants," Foley said. "We've seen this go all the way up to 16- and 17-year-olds."
Foley said he knew of one case in which credit card applications were filed in a teenager's name just four days after the teen had died.
"Some of them are professionals," he said. "Some of them are opportunists."
Struthers and Bock have hired a certified public accountant to help them clear their daughter's name and force the IRS to recognize them as her parents. They have given her Ava's birth and death certificates and everything else they have to prove she was their daughter.
Once they meet the IRS' burden of proof requirements, the same will be required of the person who falsely claimed Ava as a dependent. The process, Bock said, may take weeks.
Struthers, who hadn't filed her taxes yet when Bock's was rejected, will also apply for an extension until the dispute is resolved.
"It's not about the money," Struthers said. "That just isn't right."