I am going to assume some facts not in evidence.
.5) That a notice was issued from IRS stating that there is a credit on the account but no record of your return.
1} That the year that this applies to, the return was filed electronically, and
2) If the return was filed electronically, the return rejected and it was unknown to both the preparer and the customer.
3) If the return was mailed in, it was mailed regular mail without any proof of delivery or signature confirmation to prove that the return was received.
The friend should contact the IRS at 1-800-829-0922 between the hours of 7am to 10pm. Give the representative the social security number that the return was filed under. After you are asked questions to verify your identity, to confirm that JAX HEW filed your return electronically, ask the rep whether or not they show a record of any electronic transmissions. If they say no, this means the return never came through the IRS system. The preparer can say it did until they are blue in the face. If IRS never got it, it failed transmission between the preparer's computer and IRS's computer.
The return will need to be mailed in, Attach W2 forms and supporting documents. Remember to sign and date the return.
Once the return is processed, you will receive a notice from IRS. Since your return was filed late, you would be subject to a late filing penalty and interest on it.
You may request that this penalty be abated for reasonable cause. State what transpired from beginning to end such that your statements may be evaluated for consideration.
Generally, if the penalty is not too large, and if you have filed previous tax returns timely and if you owed taxes during the same period, paid those timely, you may qualify for first time abatement.
Hope this helps.