TAMPA - His accountant gave him the bad news.
"We feel violated obviously," said Joseph Comforto.
Comforto, a retired school teacher from New York, tells me he was expecting a modest tax return.
Now it seems he may not get one at all.
"This year we go there and he says, there seems to be a problem. When we put your tax form through the electronic thing, we got a note saying my Social Security's already been used," he said.
Somehow, someone stole Comforto's personal information, fraudulently filing his taxes with the IRS to collect his return. He says it is the second year crooks have used his name to commit tax return fraud, leaving him victim to identity theft.
"We started getting magazines," said Comforto holding up an issue of Men’s Health Magazine mailed to his address.
Comforto is just one victim, but there are thousands more, including one name in Tampa you will recognize.
"Officer David Curtis, Tampa Police Officer killed in the line of duty in 2009 had his identity stolen shortly after his death. His wife, who was left with four young sons, had to navigate through that difficult process of straightening out and submitting her legitimate return," Tampa Police Detective Sal Augeri testified in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
Detective Augeri told a Congressional Committee they have confiscated fancy cars, intercepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in debit cards headed to thieves mailboxes, and arrested dozens, but have not seen one federal indictment after dismantling a $100-million tax fraud ring in September.
"Tax code prevents the IRS from sharing information with local law enforcement. In addition, we were advised that there was a $100,000 investigation to prosecution threshold that had to be met on the federal level. Most of the cases we encountered were for nine to ten thousand dollars," testified Augeri.
Detective Augeri says police suspect many they arrested are already back in business, targeting people like Comforto who may never see their tax return.
"I'm blaming the system. The system somewhere along the line has got to be made better,” said Comforto.
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The remainder of the work week is looking like a summertime pattern with warm and humid days, a mix of sun and clouds. For the rest of the day, our chance for showers and storms continues.