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AZ Department of Revenue: Tax Refund Fraud a Growing Epidemic

PHOTO: The filing of fraudulent income tax returns in Arizona is at an epidemic level, according to the state Department of Revenue. Photo courtesy of the FBI.
PHOTO: The filing of fraudulent income tax returns in Arizona is at an epidemic level, according to the state Department of Revenue. Photo courtesy of the FBI.
August 4, 2014

PHOENIX – Arizonans should be extra cautious about sharing personal information as tax fraud is growing at an epidemic level, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Anthony Forschino, the department’s assistant director for criminal investigations, says his agency stopped more than $74 million in fraudulent refunds from being sent out during the past year.

He says that number more than doubled as compared to the previous year, and is up several hundred percent in the past half decade.

"What has happened is, there are a lot of people out there are filing fraudulent returns, either for dead people or people that they're stealing identifies from,” he says. “All those kind of things are what's happening."

Forschino contends the advent of electronic filing has made it possible for crooks sitting at computers anywhere in the world to use stolen identities to file bogus tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds.

He says tax refund fraud is not limited to Arizona, as the IRS reported paying out nearly $4 billion in fraudulent refunds to criminals last year.

Forschino says people can best protect themselves by taking extra measures to guard their personal information.

"Just watch for all these things that are going on, all these phishing things that are out there with people asking for account numbers or Social Security numbers,” he explains. “Be careful of the information you have.

“Make sure you're shredding things that have confidential information on them, because they're going to be out there trying to find it anywhere they can."

Forschino adds the Department of Revenue is working with the IRS, other states and law enforcement agencies to share information and develop strategies to combat tax fraud.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ