West U Police last week investigated 12 cases of Identity Theft, including nine cases involving West U residents who learned that false federal income tax returns had been filed using their Social Security numbers.
The April 15 deadline for filing IRS returns resulted in the West U residents learning that fictitious tax returns had been filed with their personal information. They either learned about the fraud from their accountants, while trying to file their taxes online, or in letters from the Internal Revenue Service.
Tax fraud involving ID theft has been a growing problem nationwide for the last few years.
In a September 21, 2014 report on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” journalist Steve Kroft reported that ID Theft/Tax Fraud has been steadily increasing since 2008.
According to the “60 Minutes” report, The IRS estimated that it sent out nearly 3 million fraudulent refunds in 2013. According to the Government Accountability Office, it cost taxpayers $5.2 billion in 2013.
The West U Police Department has issued some tips for preventing Identity Theft.
The Department recommends:
- Keeping important papers in a secure location.
- Shred documents with sensitive information before discarding.
- Limit the personal information you carry. This will help should you ever have the misfortune of losing your wallet or purse, or become the victim of property theft.
- Limit the amount of information shared online or on hand written surveys and questionnaires.
- Check credit regularly and pay close attention to credit inquiries and unknown or questionable accounts.
On April 10, an officer met with a resident at the West U Police Department about a case of credit/debit card abuse. The victim reported that d an unknown person(s) used his credit card to make several purchases without his consent.
Also that day, an officer met with another ID theft victim at the Police Department about an unknown person(s) who used his social security number to open up a phone account with AT&T.
On April 11, West U officers met with two different West U residents who advised police that unknown persons had used their personal information to file false federal tax returns.
Later that day, a West U officer was dispatched to the 3200 block of Robinhood for a report of a theft that already occurred. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that a subject took the victim’s watch without permission.
On Monday, April 13, an officer observed a vehicle traveling southbound which had failed to stop at the designated stop point at the stop sign in the 6400 block of West Point. The officer initiated a traffic stop in the 6500 Block of West Point. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the driver was driving on a suspended license. The driver was arrested and charged with the offense of driving while license invalid.
At 3:38 p.m., a West U officer met with a resident at the Police Department about a case of ID theft. The victim stated he received a rejection notification from the IRS informing him that they received more than one tax return using his social security number.
Also on April 13, officers from the West University Place Police Department were dispatched to the 3400 block of Tangley in regard to an assault that already occurred. A report was generated.
Just after 10 p.m. on April 14, a West U officer met with a resident at the Police Department about a case of ID theft. The victim stated she received a call from her accountant stating that her and/or her husband’s social security number was used to file a fictitious income tax return.
Another case of ID Theft/Tax Fraud was reported to West U Police on April 14 by residents of the 2700 block of Sunset. The complainants were made aware of the case as they prepared to file a return with the IRS, through their certified public accountant.
At 10:47 p.m. on April 14, West U officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress at a residence in the 3000 block of Tangley. The resident had just arrived home and found the residence ransacked.
On April 15, at 8:15 a.m., a West U police officer observed a vehicle traveling northbound in the 6400 block of Buffalo Speedway without a license plate on the front of the vehicle. A traffic stop was conducted in the 3100 block of Amherst and after further investigation the driver was arrested for the offense of driving while license invalid.
Also on April 15, a West U officer was dispatched to a residence located in the 2600 block of Centenary for a report of identity theft. Upon arrival the officer spoke to the complainant who stated that an unknown person(s) used his social security number to file a tax return. The complainant learned of the ID theft when he attempted to file his IRS return using TurboTax software.
At about 1 p.m. on April 15, an officer observed an opened grey box laying in the roadway in the 6100 block of Edloe. The officer collected the box with its contents and placed it in the West University Place evidence room for safekeeping.
At 12:23 p.m.on April 15, an officer was dispatched to a residence in the 2700 block of Robinhood in response to an identity theft. Upon the officer’s arrival, the victim stated an unknown person(s) used his personal identifying information to file a fictitious income tax return.
A West U officer was dispatched on April 15 to the Webster Police Department to pick up a subject with warrants with West University Police Department.
An officer was dispatched to the Bank of Texas, located in the 5000 block of Kirby, for a report of a forgery. The reportee/bank teller advised that an unknown subject attempted to cash a fraudulent check. The bank teller noticed that the check was suspicious and notified the subject. After being notified that the check was fraudulent, the subject left the area without incident.
On April 16, an officer noticed a suspicious vehicle in the 3200 block of Duke St. The officer investigated and found two intoxicated persons inside the vehicle. One subject was unconscious and was transported to the hospital by West University FD Medic 1. The second subject was arrested for public intoxication and booked into the West University Jail without incident.
On April 16, an officer met with a West U resident at the Police Department about fraudulent use of identifying information. The victim’s CPA filed his income tax return, but the tax return was rejected. The IRS notified the CPA that a tax return had already been filed using the victim’s information.
On April 16, an officer was sent to the 4100 block of Byron in reference to fraudulent use of identifying information. The victim’s accountant filed the victim’s income tax return, but the tax return was rejected. The IRS notified the accountant that a tax return had already been filed using the victim’s information.
At 2:25 p.m. on April 16, an officer was advised by dispatch of some fraudulent activity that had just occurred, at a bank in the 4100 block of Bellaire. The officer arrived in the area and located the suspects’ vehicles in the 4500 block of Bellaire and conducted a traffic stop on both vehicles. After further investigation, the suspect involved in the fraudulent activity in the bank was arrested for forgery.
West U officers were dispatched on April 16 to to a robbery that had just occurred near the intersection of Brompton and Carnegie. Officers arrived and met with the victim who stated she was walking on the sidewalk when a subject approached her from behind and pulled her purse off of her shoulder. Officers checked the area but were unable to locate the suspect.