Identity Theft and Your Tax Return

 Darth Vader

Darth Vader

Scary stuff, actually. A million phony tax returns being filed annually seems to me to be a bigger threat to our nation financial security than kissing Grover Norquist’s, uh, ring.Too bad the Republican Do Nothings in Congress have partisanship on their mind, party over country… 

Besieged by identity theft, Florida now faces a fast-spreading form of fraud so simple and lucrative that some violent criminals have traded their guns for laptops. And the target is the United States Treasury. With nothing more than ledgers of stolen identity information — Social Security numbers and their corresponding names and birth dates — criminals have electronically filed thousands of false tax returns with made-up incomes and withholding information and have received hundreds of millions of dollars in wrongful refunds, law enforcement officials say.

The criminals, some of them former drug dealers, outwit the Internal Revenue Service by filing a return before the legitimate taxpayer files. Then the criminals receive the refund, sometimes by check but more often though a convenient but hard-to-trace prepaid debit card.

The government-approved cards, intended to help people who have no bank accounts, are widely available in many places, including tax preparation companies. Some of them are mailed, and the swindlers often provide addresses for vacant houses, even buying mailboxes for them, and then collect the refunds there.

Postal workers have been harassed, robbed and, in one case, murdered as they have made their rounds with mail trucks full of debit cards and master keys to mailboxes.

The fraud, which has spread around the country, is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually, federal and state officials say. The I.R.S. sometimes, in effect, pays two refunds instead of one: first to the criminal who gets a claim approved, and then a second to the legitimate taxpayer, who might have to wait as long as a year while the agency verifies the second claim.

J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, testified before Congress this month that the I.R.S. detected 940,000 fake returns for 2010 in which identity thieves would have received $6.5 billion in refunds. But Mr. George said the agency missed an additional 1.5 million returns with possibly fraudulent refunds worth more than $5.2 billion.

Career criminals know easy money when they see it. The police say they run across street corner drug dealers and robbers who have been in and out of prison for years now making lots of money by filing fraudulent returns. Some have been spotted driving Bentleys and Lamborghinis.

“A gentleman, a former armed robber, said: ‘I’m not doing robberies anymore. This is much cleaner. I don’t even have to use a gun,’ ” said Sgt. Jay J. Leiner of the economic crimes unit in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which has formed a multiagency task force.

Mr. Ferrer, the United States attorney, said he had seen tax fraud overtake violent crime in Overtown, a poor, high-crime section of Miami. He said criminals there were holding filing parties, at which they would haul out laptops and, for a fee, teach others how to run the swindle.

“There is no real competition,” Mr. Ferrer said. “They are not fighting each other. Altogether, they are stealing from the I.R.S.”

(click here to continue reading With Personal Data in Hand, Thieves File Early and Often –

2 thoughts on “Identity Theft and Your Tax Return

  1. John Cutting says:

    This is difficult to believe, actually. It sounds like propaganda, the reasons for which I could only begin to surmise – and none of them would be pretty. …I have come to ‘believe’ that the forces that be, would have us believe in all manner of negative things because unhappy people spend money to alleviate their fear and confusion. It’s that simple.

    I could not begin to prove what I’m suggesting. But could the author of the news article in question, prove their assertions? This is the type of fear mongering (I think that’s the correct phrase) that is unsubstantiated. Until I see authentic, untampered footage of thugs driving Bentleys and waving stolen debit cards, I don’t believe it.

    On a seemingly unrelated note, I leanred only recently that the IRS has nothing to do with the U.S. government, unless selling corporate shares counts as a relationship. And Federal Reserve? What is that, really? CIA, FBI, NASA, the list goes on. Evidently, these and more are all corporate entities that have no subordinate relationship to the U.S. government (or to democracy, or to accountability, etc.). By that I mean to say, they are above the laws of the United States. I even heard that they’re not all U.S. corporations, at that. (See Great Britain for royal, corporate pedigrees.)

    With rumors like that floating around, who can substantiate anything these days? And then again, who needs to? We the people have become unfortunate victims of rumor mills. And from time to time, I feel gound up and frayed at the edges because of it. Who doesn’t. But perhaps one day some psychologist will pop out of the woodwork and apply a Dr. Phil winning attitude toward the obvious, one that might help the American public understand whether to believe in the horror and mayhem as indicated by news media – or to take it all in as ‘modern entertainment’ and look to their own back yard for a reality check.

    As for me, I can’t recall when was the last time I witnessed an ex-con rifling through my PO Box, stolen set of mail keys dangling from his studded leather belt and swaying gently as a pendulum that directs the eye downward to high black boots with tiny skull and crossbones playfully etched into the toes undoubtedly by a very sharp blade that would necessarily be concealed in his hip pocket. Right next to his fake postal ID. That’s a sight I might have remembered. There are so many rumors! And given that Rumor #1 suggests that a handful of wealthy elite run the governments, and OWN the news media, and generate the buzz mills on the internet, and on and on – oh wait, that’s not Rumor #1 on the list of priorities, is it? It should be, but it isn’t.

    Hmmm. It’s just enough to crack a man up, isn’t it? To crack up – there’s a double-entendre. And “govern-ment” – does it really mean “control-mind?” Are any of these things one overhears based in truth? …I’m taking back my mind. It isn’t the news media’s to control. (Although, given that my Social Security number is a clear indicator of my indenturedness to the British empire and aristocracy, …or so I’ve heard it rumored, …from whom are these thugs stealing anyway? Maybe the Queen ought to do something about this, or maybe she has so much money she won’t miss a few million in U.S. taxpayer dollars. And how would one learn the truth about such a thing anyhow?)

  2. John Cutting says:

    In the next to last paragraph, the deeper truth is hidden in the subtext. If this supposed IRS scam were as lucrative as is being suggested by the fearful headlines that grab the eye, I doubt any unconscientious and money hungry ex-con would haul out his laptop and give away his best money making secrets for a fee. Work At Home opportunities never looked so good! How to make millions from home by conning the IRS. Work from home in your underwear, and bling your way to the bank. Wow, sign me up for that seminar. Because evidently, I’ll become the first millionaire on my block in the hood – and the shiny new Bentley won’t stick out like a sore thumb, at all. Ha ha. Bentleys? Really? …I thought self-respecting thugs preferred Hummers. Let this serve as a lesson to us all – Discernment can be a tool of modern man.

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