Fraudulent Tax Forms Filed In Vermillion
VERMILLION, SD —
It's made national news, and now it's happening right here in Siouxland.
Police have uncovered a tax return fraud conspiracy organized by students at the University of South Dakota.
You never would suspect something like this to happen a town like Vermillion, but a few USD students were actually getting a hold of people's social security numbers, and other personal information, so they could get their tax refunds.
"In South Dakota we kind think, its not gonna happen here, unfortunately it did," said Matthew Betzen, Vermillion Chief of Police.
And many Vermillion residents may not even know they're a victim, yet.
"Two or three people were identified as possibly being involved in efforts to file false tax returns, in cahoots with people in other states," Betzen said.
The suspects are students at the University of South Dakota. The investigation started about two weeks ago.
It all started at an ATM, where a suspicious looking man was spotted trying to take cash out. A resident here in Vermillion, called the police department, saying the man was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and was parked far away from the ATM. They also said he was trying to avoid the camera. When Police came out here and actually looked at the footage from the camera, they said the man didn't even know his own pin number. That's when they decided to investigate further.
Police say the suspects had been filing the false tax forms since tax season began. Laurie Lind, a professor at USD says she didn't expect something like this to happen here.
"You're talking about college students, who have a need for money, who need quick access to money, so that these sorts of schemes don't come up more often is really a testament to the students we have here, that it is unusual to hear about something like that is not the norm," she said.
The investigation has been handed over to the Internal Revenue Service, and police say their number one priority is to educate people on protecting themselves.
"People need to be careful with their personal identity. We live in a high trust environment here in South Dakota, and people probably are not as careful with their names and social security numbers," said Betzen.
If you believe that someone has filed a fraudulent tax return using your identity, the IRS is asking you call the IRS Identity protection specialized unit at 1-800-908-4490. An agent on duty will be able to help you directly.
You can get more information on the IRS website: www.IRS.gov