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Identity Theft and Tax Refund Fraud

As we come into April and tax time, be very cautious. Don’t click on links within emails that promise federal or state tax refunds. This is taken from the IRS Criminal Investigation Law Enforcement Bulletin…

tax refund

Many criminals have engaged in schemes utilizing stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns and receive significant refunds.  Should this happen to you, it will affect your ability to get your return and could tie up your return for months or years in some cases.  IRS-CI is aggressively pursuing the prosecution of crimes involving identity theft used to obtain false refunds.  If this has happened to you, call the IRS-CI unit immediately and report it.  As a note of advice: PLEASE file a paper return, as the vast majority of these thefts result from E-filing.  Do Not Use a questionable service to file your taxes despite what they promise you.  Many will promise you heavily inflated returns for a “cut.”  Do Not Do This.  Anyone offering you that is not legitimate.  Do your homework and research the tax preparer.  If it sounds questionable, it probably is.  H&R Block, a licensed accountant, Turbo Tax, and commonly known services are well established.  We are not endorsing any of these, but our point is that you want to use a well known service.  Identity thieves set up temporary store fronts during tax time.  While they appear legitimate, many are not.  BEWARE of this fact.  This is a nationwide problem.

The fraudulent refunds are received in three forms: United States Treasury Refund Checks, Stored Value Cards, and Direct Deposits.

Many law enforcement agencies have uncovered evidence of these schemes during investigations (narcotics, fraud), traffic stops, debriefing of Confidential Informants, arrests, and search warrants for unrelated offenses.

Items to look for:

·        Multiple federal refund checks in multiple names either going to the same address or multiple addresses, or multiple stored value cards;

·        Listings of names, social security numbers, and addresses;

·        Bank statements listing multiple refunds deposited into accounts;

·        Tax forms including Form 1040 and Form W-2, multiple envelopes addressed to IRS Service Centers or correspondences from IRS in multiple names;

·        Individuals who allege to be return preparers as an explanation for possessing the items listed above;

·        Individuals who are offering refund check cashing services out of a location other than a storefront or individuals who are willing to pay a large fee for the negotiation of refund checks.

If you identify any of the above indicators of identity theft or tax refund fraud, contact your local IRS-CI Duty Agent at 817-978-4492. The IRS-CI Duty Agent will respond as soon as possible to assist your agency and evaluate the information obtained.

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