« A brief "golden age" of Mormonism's positive image | Main | Pussy Riot »

New tax fraud: id fraud for refunds

From 2008 to 2011, the number of returns filed by identity thieves and stopped by the I.R.S. increased significantly, officials said. Last year, it was at least 1.3 million, said Steven T. Miller, deputy commissioner for services and enforcement at the agency.

This year, with only 30 percent of the filings reviewed so far, the number is already at 2.6 million. The bulk are related to identity theft, Mr. Miller said.


In South Florida and Tampa, the problem has gotten so bad that police officers conducting unrelated searches or simple traffic stops routinely stumble across ledgers with names and Social Security numbers, boxes of stolen medical records and envelopes with debit cards.

The Tampa Police Department set up a special unit last year related to this kind of fraud after officers continued to find an "ungodly amount" of identity-theft material, said Detective Sal Augeri, a veteran on the unit. Last year, the department handled nearly 1,000 incidents; this year, the number is "way, way above that," he said.

Fraudulent filers first used names and Social Security numbers of the deceased to file claims. The numbers become public by law and, until recently, were easily available on popular genealogy Web sites. Swindlers also used the Social Security numbers of prisoners.

When officials cracked down on those two avenues, the theft migrated to anywhere Social Security numbers are collected. Most vulnerable are records from health care facilities, assisted-living centers, schools, insurance companies, pension funds and large stores that issue credit cards. The police say employees steal the information and sell it, an increasingly common practice here.

Everyone is susceptible. Two dozen Tampa police officers, including one whose job it is to investigate identity-theft fraud, had their identities stolen and their tax refunds diverted this year.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)