May 24, 2013
Carolyn Mazzenga, Tax & Business Services Partner & Partner-in-Charge of the Long Island Office, Featured in Long Island Business News Article "Refund Rip-Offs"
A growing number of identity thieves are stealing social security numbers and filing electronic tax returns in their victims' names to collect their refunds.
This method of fraud tops the Internal Revenue Service's "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for 2013. Practically unheard of just a few years ago, the problem has ballooned into a whirlwind of financial chaos that has cost the IRS and taxpayers billions of dollars in fraudulent tax returns.
As the numbers of cases grow across the country, Long Island taxpayers are not immune, as accounting firms across the Island reported an increase in tax return fraud this past tax season.
"It seems that in these situations, the fraudulent return is filed early in the year, so that before all of a victim's forms are processed, the criminal can collect the check before anyone catches on," said Cazolyn Mazzenga, the partner in charge of the Melville office of Marcum.
Mazzenga noted that the IRS goal is to get refunds to taxpayers quickly. Because of this, she said, the agency rushes to send them out. "In these cases, the taxpayer is defrauded, the government is defrauded - it seems like everyone is a victim," she said.
In response to the rise in identity theft incidents, Marcum utilizes methods such as encryption in emails to minimize the likelihood of pertinent information getting into the wrong hands.