The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

April 7, 2014

Fayette law enforcement deals with tax filing scam

By Chris Boyd
Register-Herald Reporter

— According to a release from Sheriff Steve Kessler, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a scam involving the filing of false tax returns.

The release stated that over the past several weeks the Detective Bureau of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports from local residents who, upon attempting to file their Federal and State Income Tax Returns, have been informed that someone had already filed a tax return using their name, date of birth and/or social security number. These fraudulent tax filings have forced these residents to incur considerable time and expense by filing tax returns by mail with extensive documentation.

Investigators are examining these reports in an attempt to determine if there is some common link among these individuals.

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

Due to the large number of cases filed in this immediate area, investigators have also sought assistance from the Internal Revenue Service.

“Privacy laws prevent the IRS from sharing a lot of information directly with our investigators,” Sheriff Kessler said, “but the IRS investigators are able to determine the location(s) where these fraudulent tax returns were filed, the bank accounts to which refunds were deposited and other information of that nature. By working together we are hopeful that we may be able to identify the individual(s) or group(s) responsible for filing these fraudulent tax returns.”

If anyone in the area has experienced a case of this nature they are asked to contact the Detective Bureau of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office at 304-574-4216. This series of incidents remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau and by the investigative section of the Federal Internal Revenue Service.

— E-mail: cboyd@register-herald.com