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Scam Involving Filing Of False Tax Returns Under Investigation In Fayette County

Reported: Apr. 2, 2014 2:13 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 2, 2014 11:30 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) – A scam alert has been issued in the Kanawha Valley.

Dozens of false tax filings, with several victims in Fayette, Boone and Kanawha Counties have been reported. Mostly these cases involve identity theft.

For example, a couple goes to file their tax return, only to find-out someone else has already done it and collected a return, using their Social Security numbers.

With less than two weeks left to get your taxes done, there's plenty to watch out for.

"And so now we have to verify, who really has the right to claim this individual," accountant Frank Frashier, with the U.S. Tax & Financial Group in South Charleston, said.

Eyewitness News caught up with Frashier, as he was holding on to one of the many fraud cases that have come across his desk, where someone is trying to claim someone else's dependent.

He said it’s a common find this year.

"They'll claim children that don't belong to them," Frashier said.

In Kanawha County, more than half of clients who filed electronically got their federal returns, but are still waiting for their state checks.

"Paper returns that have been mailed in to the state are being processed and paid almost immediately," Frashier said.

Fraud is backing things up on the federal side, which has trickled down to the state level.

"The other part is, it seems to be a cash flow issue on the part of the State," Frashier said.

In Fayette County, the sheriff is investigating false filings, where several people tried to file their returns, only to discover someone else had already filed for the, but had the money deposited to their accounts. Those deposits are being traced right now, but identity theft will hugely delay your return.

"Get in touch with us as quickly as possible," Mark Hanson, who is an IRS Spokesperson, said. "Because it is a lengthy process to resolve an identity theft case. It can take up to 180 days to get the refund you're entitled to."

In Boone county, there are reports of fraud, mostly with the self-employed who file Schedule C.

"They're claiming income they haven't earned," Frashier said.

The biggest mistake that’s being made on the federal side?

"They just simply forget to sign the return," Hanson said, adding the most important thing you need to remember about your taxes.

"The IRS will not call you asking for personal information,” Hanson said adamantly. “The IRS will email you asking for sensitive personal information. There are many phone scams and email scams that are out there."

Bottom line, he said, do not try to claim someone or something you cannot.

Being flagged for fraud is just not worth it. The deadline is April 15. And keep this in mind. If you file for an automatic six-month extension to file your return, that is not an extension to pay taxes you already owe the IRS. Those taxes need to be paid before you file.

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) – The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a scam involving the filing of false tax returns.

Detectives have received reports from local residents during the past several weeks who were attempting to file their federal and state income tax returns and were informed someone had already filed a tax return using their name, date of birth and/or Social Security number, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Residents who have been victimized by the scam have had to spend considerable time and expense by filing tax returns by mail with extensive documentation, the sheriff’s office said.

Investigators are examining the reports from residents to determine if there is any link among the individuals.

“Some of the individuals targeted in this scheme have used tax preparation services while others have individually filed their taxes electronically,” Sheriff Steve Kessler said in a prepared statement. “We are attempting to determine if these individuals use the same banks or other financial institutions, utilize the same physicians for their health care needs, have engaged in Internet commerce with the same businesses, have experienced the same type of computer virus or similar connections. If we are able to isolate one or more common areas among all these cases, we may be able to identify the possible source where this fraud originated.”

The IRS also has been asked for assistance in the investigation.

Anyone who has experienced a case of this nature is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 304-574-4216.

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