The Ohio Department of Taxation intercepted fraudulent income-tax filings seeking approximately $180 million in refunds for the 2013 tax year. In previous years, the agency was able to catch an average of about $10 million. Why the sudden increase in tax fraud? It appears that identity theft is the culprit as evidenced by a recent scheme reported on WLWT.com and carried out by a southwest Ohio man, who stooped to an all-time low. He used the identities of deceased children to try to steal approximately $40,000 in fraudulent tax refunds.
The story reports that the 28-year-old man falsified income tax returns using the identities of more than 30 people in six states. Some of those victims were actually dead children he claimed as dependents. (Ironically, none of the deceased children were from the state of Ohio. Perhaps this fact was the mistake that alerted officials to his crime since he lived in Ohio.) The story does not mention how the fraudster obtained the personal identification information used in the four-month scheme that netted about $16,000.
The criminal pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. He could get a two-year prison sentence for his fraudulent actions.
The actions of this criminal can be related to pouring salt in the wounds of parents, who were grieving the death of their children. It’s a terrible thing to live through that tragedy only to find out that someone took advantage of their loved one’s demise to line their pockets with undeserved money. (A two-year sentence seems like such a small consequence for such inhumane actions.)