BAPD: Tax Fraud Responsible For Spike In Identity Theft

Monday, April 6th 2015, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

Identity theft in Broken Arrow is already five times what it was last year; police said it's because of a spike in tax return fraud.

Criminals are stealing people's social security numbers to file false tax returns and taking the money for themselves.

According to police the one thing the Broken Arrow victims have in common is that they all used an online tax filing service.

Police believe hackers, both in the U.S. and abroad, are tapping into the services and other online databases to steal your personal information, and filing your tax return as their victims.

Dee McCasland logged on to file her taxes and got an alarming message.

"My identity had been stolen. Someone else had used my social," she said.

McCasland said someone used her social security number, and, likely, her name and date of birth to file her tax return.

Allison: "So someone out there has the money from your tax return?"
McCasland: "They do."
Allison: "I mean, that has to be an awful feeling."
McCasland: "It was devastating."

Devastating, because she planned to use the money for her daughter's Spring Break; instead her family canceled the trip and called police.

"I was really scared and nervous, like, ‘Oh my goodness, what's happened,'" she asked.

Broken Arrow Detective Bill Payne is investigating nearly 100 similar cases.

"Well obviously they feel violated because they're trying to, you know, file their taxes properly, and now they find out that someone has their information and is using it to gain benefit, and some of these returns are $6,000 to $7,000," Payne said.

Criminals are making $5 billion a year in fraudulent tax returns.

Payne said victims should get their tax return money back, but it could take up to a year.

"It delays the process of the IRS accepting their returns and it makes the victim have to jump through a lot of hoops to get it straightened out," he said.

Payne said he's traced suspects to other states and even other countries.

He said people can protect themselves and file their taxes early to beat criminals at their own game, continuously change usernames and passwords and guard what information you put online.

The detective said, while the cases have increased by 350 percent in Broken Arrow since this time last year, he said it's not a BA problem, or an Oklahoma problem; it's a national problem that's currently being addressed by the IRS and the FBI.

If you're a victim you can file a police report then contact the IRS, Social Security, and the three major credit card bureaus.