It has been nearly two months since Tax Day, April 15, and local law enforcement agencies say they are still receiving tax fraud reports.
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office said it had only handled 159 by April 15 but reported Friday that it has investigated 256 identity fraud reports since Jan. 1. The sheriff’s office said a vast majority of the identity theft reports are tax-related.
That number is nearly double the number of identity fraud reports taken in the entirety of 2014. The sheriff’s office said in 2014 it took 134 identity fraud reports and only 54 in 2013.
Similarly, the Delaware City Police Department reportedly took 38 identity theft claims by Tax Day. Police reported Friday they had taken an additional seven reports since April 15.
Delaware police say they took a single identity theft report in 2014.
The Powell Police Department reported 29 income tax-related fraud cases on Tax Day but reported Friday they had taken an additional 22 cases since then. Powell police officials said they only took eight similar reports in all of 2014.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Taxation said the increases in reported cases are the result of more electronic filings.
Gary Gudmundson, director of communications for the Department of Taxation, said previous years would have seen between $8 million and $10 million of attempted tax fraud. Gudmundson said the department saw more than $270 million in attempted tax fraud in 2014 and added the department of taxation is still calculating this year’s attempted fraud amount.
The taxation department reports that a single fraudulent filer might turn in hundreds or even thousands of tax returns with real names — including those of the deceased — and stolen Social Security numbers. The department said the filers hope that a least a few of their falsified returns will be processed and the money will be deposited into their accounts electronically.
The state taxation department has tried to combat tax fraud by creating a new ID confirmation quiz to verify identities of filers before their returns are processed. The quiz consists of only a few multiple choice questions but the answers are so specific that ideally only the real filer would know them. Officials were confident in the test, saying that 98 percent of people who took the test passed and prevented potential fraud.
Officials said there were delays in tax returns as the result of the crackdown on the voter fraud.
More information about the tax ID confirmation quiz and tax fraud can be found at www.tax.oh.gov.