(KMOV) – News 4 investigated report of a spike in stolen identities involving people’s tax refunds getting into the wrong hands.
The Internal Revenue Service admits they have a growing problem on their hands of people who steal social security numbers so they can then steal the person’s tax refund.
News 4 reported on a St. Louis couple busted for filing hundreds of tax returns totaling $1 million from their Tampa home.
They used friends to cash the checks in St. Louis. Many of the stolen social security numbers belonged to dead people but most often to those who were still alive and victimized.
JoAnn Ebel of Belleville tried filing her taxes last year only to discover someone had already fired a return for her, using her social security number.
The IRS launched more than 1,400 criminal investigations into identity thefts last year. That is a 66-percent increase over the year before.
The agency flagged more than 14 million suspicious returns since 2011 and claims to have blocked 50 billion in fraudulent returns.
According to the IRS, prosecutions and indictments have more than doubled last year.