Tax Refund Fraud Growing around S. Florida
There've been so many identity theft victims choking local IRS offices that the agency's limited how many could come into their customer service offices earlier this week.
Sunrise resident Vanessa Dowe spent time off from work to go to the IRS' Plantation Customer Service Center after finding out her tax I-D was ripped off and her tax refund was stolen.
Dowe explains "I filed my taxes just yesterday actually and just got a notice somebody else had used my I-D and got my Tax Refund. I started crying".
South Florida is considered one of the identity theft capitals of the country. So when tax season starts, it's not unexpected to start hearing about tax refund scams.
it looks like it's going to be a major problem this year too.
Doral police supervisor Fatima Nunez also just found out her tax identity and refund were stolen.
After spending hours at Miami's IRS office, she thinks the agency just can't handle the growing number of new cases.
The veteran investigator says " Honestly, I don't believe they have enough people. I took me over 3 hours personally for waiting time at the downtown office and there were 150 people there for the same problem, Identity Theft and once you go there and get all the paperwork, it's a 90 day investigation period".
Doral Police Chief Ricardo Gomez says he's seen a big increase in tax-related identity theft complaints. He thinks the problem is much worse than last year. He says the identity thieves are operating in sophisticated groups and are not just kids stealing I-D's. His Detectives are investigating a recent robbery where the suspects were found with a dozen local tax returns and thinks they may be part of a very well organized ring.
Gomez warns "People need to be very careful about their tax forms, social security number and personal financial information to avoid becoming a victim in the first place."
The IRS says it has limited resources to investigate identity thefts and apologizes to victims for any long delays .
Spokesman Mike Dobzinski adds "We can only handle so many people, we do not have unlimited resources. We're doing the best we can. Some people have had to wait in line and we apologize for that".
Miami has been identified as one of the 9 National Hotspots for the Federal Government's New Inter-Agency task force on tax-related Identity Theft.
16 people were recently arrested statewide as part of a crackdown on Tax Refund Fraud.
The IRS says Taxpayers who believe their refunds may have been stolen need to contact the agency as soon as possible.
Contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490
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