Fraudsters Stole Deceased Boy’s Identity for Tax Fraud

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The Tampa Tribune reports that the identity of a woman’s deceased son was stolen and used in a fraudulent tax return. According to the article, Natalai Douglas learned of the fraud when her tax preparer notified her that the Internal Revenue Service had rejected her claim for a tax refund. Douglas’ five-year old son had recently died in a swimming pool accident. The article notes that: ”…the IRS told her she would get a letter – as would the person who stole her son’s identity – detailing the documentation she should send to prove she was his mother. (As if a loss of a child is not enough stress, now ordinary citizens are being subjected to months of paperwork.)

”Douglas’ tax preparer has between 1,500 and 2,000 clients. This year, he said, between 25 and 30 of his clients were victims of identity theft and tax fraud.” (That’s a lot of tax dollars going into the pockets of fraudsters.)

Unfortunately, the article recounts a similar incident by other grieving parents. The McClung family learned that their deceased daughter’s identity was stolen when they filed for their tax refund electronically and ”someone else had already claimed their daughter as a dependent.’? While working to resolve the matter, the McClungs learned of the Social Security Death Index, a resource, which includes ”the names, dates of birth and Social Security Numbers of the deceased” has become ”a lucrative source [of information] for people wanting to commit fraud.”

Question of the day: If public records can be used to steal identities, can’t they be used to identify the tax cheaters? The answer is ”YES”!

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Tax cheats stole her dead son’s identity, mom says” published in The Tampa Tribune, by Elaine Silvestrini, October 11, 2011.

For Natalai Douglas, losing her son is something she will never get over. Just two weeks after he turned 5 last year, Terrance “T.J.” Hamilton Jr. drowned in a swimming pool while visiting his mother’s godparents. Just a few months later, Douglas learned someone had stolen her child’s identity, using his Social Security number on a fraudulent tax return. “I had just buried him,” Douglas said. “This is like the bottom of the pit for me. Whoever did this, they’re a big criminal. …They’re a heartless criminal.”

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.