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It's Tax Time, But Your Money Could Be Stolen By Refund Robbers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It is the time of year when Americans file their income taxes, but this year your refund could end up going to somebody else.

Tri-State Area residents recently told CBS 2's Kristine Johnson that they were the victims of refund robbers.

"I was out over $8,000. I needed that money, and I had, I actually had to take a loan out from a family member," Bronx resident Kevin Johns said.

Johns was the victim of fraud. The IRS had sent his check out, but it was sent to somebody who had stolen his identity and filled out a bogus tax return in his name.

"They sent the crook the money. The crook got the money already, he's lying on the beach somewhere," Johns said.

New York and New Jersey are hot beds for this type of criminal activity, with a 40 percent increase occurring in the past year, according to financial experts. Now, the IRS is cracking down, doubling the number of employees that are working to prevent identity theft.

"They've also been coordinating with the Justice Department and with police departments to some extent, and they have been doing wide sweeps and cracking down on tax preparers when they see these problems happening," explained Michael Cohn of

Once thieves have a person's information they will use it over and over again, experts said.

"The next year I file my taxes and the same thing happens again. I filed with the accountant and he says 'uh-oh, we got a problem, it came back rejected' and I said 'oh no, not again,'" Johns explained.

Johns said he is glad to see that the problem is getting attention from law enforcement.

The IRS turned down CBS 2's request for an interview. In 2011 it paid out $6.5 billion in fraudulent refunds, according to the Department of the Treasury.

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