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Thursday, April 19, 2007


And then there’s the scenario where the ID thieves highjack your identity, filing an online tax return in your name to receive refund anticipation loans (RAL). The latter is given by some lending institutions when you can prove you are due a refund. MSNBC carried a piece on this, demonstrating how easy it is by using an extremely qualified source: Evangelos Soukas, who is in a California prison for several ID theft scams. Soukas even says he would file some returns that showed he owed money, but by returning to the site and changing numbers, come up with the refund. Yoki Echols of Ft. Worth, Texas was part of the 18 percent of the 45,000 2006 fraudulent returns that was due to identity theft. The culprit also received a RAL loan, and this time a tax preparer processed the return, but was no where to be found when the fraud was discovered. That was when Echols was contacted by the IRS telling her that her tax return was going through a “more thorough review,” and she told them she hadn’t even filed her taxes yet. The Santa Barbara bank providing the loan wanted their money back, and Echols is still trying to convince them and the IRS of the mistake. The Treasury Department admits that ID theft is a “growing problem” in tax refund fraud. Because it is so universal in its ease of success, the identity theft crooks will continue to find new avenues to use this means of destroying American households.

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