DOPD – April 2015 Article

Mar 26, 2015 by

DOPD – April 2015 Article

Double Oak Police Department

April 2015

             Attention.  Recovered Property.  We recently recovered two chainsaws that were probably taken in a burglary of a building (read shed or garage) and abandoned on a Double Oak street.  Please call our offices at 972-355-5995 or via email at police @double-oak.com with a description of your missing chainsaw(s).  We would like to return them to their rightful owners.

             As of March 25, 2015 we are aware of seven households in the Town of Double Oak who have had fraudulent tax returns filed.  We have also received multiple reports of aggressive telephone callers identifying themselves as agents of the Internal Revenue Service and demanding payment.

             IRS Imposter scams are on the rise.  The Federal Trade Commission tracks complaints nationwide and reported 94 offenses per month in July 2013 with a high of 8,293 scams per month reported in November 2014.

             From the Federal Trade Commission website consumer.ftc.gov, “Contact the IRS if they send you a notice saying their records show:  You were paid by an employer you don’t know and/or more than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number.”  Currently numerous Double Oak residents are discovering that when they go to file their tax return another return has already been filed and a criminal has received a fraudulent tax refund.  “If you think someone used your SSN for a tax refund or a job – or the IRS sends you a notice or letter indicating a problem – contact the IRS immediately.”  “Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.” (Tax-Related Identity Theft – consumer.ftc.gov).

             It is important to remember that an IRS agent will NOT contact you by phone or email and that communication will be done through the United States mail.  Payment to the IRS is never made or requested by a prepaid debit card or a money transfer.  The IRS doesn’t require a specific type of payment.  Prepaid debit cards and wire transfers lend themselves to fraud.  If you do receive a suspicious phone call please don’t give the caller information.  Please DO write down the details of the call.  Please HANG UP as soon as possible and then contact the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov.  Please DO file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at tigta.gov or 800-366-4484 and with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 877-FTC-HELP.

             Suspects are being identified, prosecuted and sentenced to jail.  The Internal Revenue Service has an ever increasing list of persons convicted for filing false income tax returns (http://www.irs.gov/uac/Examples-of-Identity-Theft-Schemes-Fiscal -Year-2014).  A review of the case synopsis (36 pages of defendants) is interesting and certain trends become clear.  For whatever reason there are numerous cases of false income tax returns being filed from Florida (it could be as simple as an active task force successfully tracking and prosecuting offenders).  In a majority of cases the defendants had access to large amounts of personally identifying information (PII) through their employment.  In a very large number of cases the person filing the false income tax returns, and stealing PII has a tax preparation business.  I’ve included a couple of IRS case summaries for your edification:

Louisiana Tax Preparer Sentenced for Filing Hundreds of False Tax Returns

             “On March 12, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La., Ashley D. Ricks-Stampley was sentenced to 81 months in prison and three years of supervised release.  She was also ordered to pay $699,734 in restitution to the IRS and $11,138 to the Louisiana Department of Revenue.  During her guilty plea hearing, Ricks-Stampley admitted to defrauding the IRS by submitting hundreds of false tax returns in the names of other individuals, without their knowledge or consent, for the purpose of receiving thousands of dollars in tax refunds.  The applications falsely represented that the individual had worked for various companies during 2010 and 2011 and were eligible for income tax refunds.  In fact, these individuals had not worked for or earned wages from the companies reflected in the fraudulent tax returns. “

Former VA Employee Sentenced for Theft of Veterans’ Personal Information

             “On March 6, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., David F. Lewis was sentenced to 72 months in prison and ordered to pay a $105,271 money judgment.  Lewis pleaded guilty on Dec. 10, 2013 to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.  According to court documents and testimony presented in court, Lewis was an employee at the Tampa VA Medical Center.  On at least five different dates in 2012, Lewis accessed and printed the personal information, including names, social security numbers, and medical information, of over 100 veterans who were in-patients at the medical center.  Lewis then gave these documents to someone else in exchange for crack cocaine, knowing that the veterans’ information would be used by other to file fraudulent tax returns in order to fraudulently obtain tax refunds, and in at least one instance, to apply for lines of credit in the veteran’s name.”

             Common themes that run throughout the IRS summaries include persons who had access to sensitive personal identifying information (persons with professions as varied as health care worker, prison guard, tax preparer, credit union teller, school district employee or plain old hard working thief) would steal and then use, or sell, that same information.   The prosecuted cases usually involved the filing of hundreds of returns and it was interesting to note that the suspects often had the refunds sent to the same financial accounts or mailboxes or they solicited friends and acquaintances to deposit the fraudulent refunds.

             If you are the victim of identity theft and it is affecting your federal tax records you will be asked to file Internal Revenue Service Form 14039.  You will be also have to provide a short narrative regarding what happened, photocopied personal identifying information, and contact information.  Again the IRS would like to emphasize that they do not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, fax, or any social media tools to request personal or financial information.  Report unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS and bogus IRS websites to phishing@irs.gov.  For additional information please visit IRS.gov and search for “Fake IRS Communications.”  You will receive assistance from the IRS with the filing of a corrected tax return.

             You may also be asked to file Form 8821-A which is Disclosure Authorization for Victims of Identity Theft.  Form 8821-A permits criminal investigators to obtain the information provided by a third party using your name or social security number without your knowledge or consent.   It’s the beginning of a criminal investigation and hopefully the discovery of the suspect(s) who stole your identity.  Your local law enforcement agency is more than willing to take a report, assist with the completion of forms and to follow-up on any local suspect leads.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Chief Watson

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