Billions of dollars are stolen each year in a scheme that is easy to pull off, and if you're a taxpayer you're one of the victims.
The scheme was all uncovered by a mail carrier on his regular delivery route.
"I was delivering the mail and noticed the names did not match the people who lived at the house," said Richard Russo, U.S. Letter Carrier.
He was suspicious when he started seeing one address getting multiple Treasury checks with different names.
"This is an ID theft investigation that started off with perpetrators stealing or buying peoples' Social Security numbers, then file false W-2 forms to the victim attached to that Social Security number," said Cheryl Swyers, U.S. Postal Inspector.
With that information, scam artists can file a fraudulent tax refund.
Because the U.S. Treasury check has to be issued to a specific address, thieves either pay an accomplice to pick up the check or pick it up themselves.
"Actually at one time every house on one street was getting one and they were all fraudulent names," said Russo.
Thieves are getting the IDs from black market lists or by bribing an employee with access to a big database. They even troll "underground" web sites.
Experts say the scam is easy to pull off, especially with electronic filing. The IRS does not cross-check all returns against employer payroll records before a refund is issued.
"One particular day, I would have 10 checks .... then 10 checks, maybe 20. In all I had $900,000 worth of bogus checks," said Russo.
More than $6 billion was lost last year alone.
Along with victims whose Social Security information is compromised, taxpayers are also the victim.
Rescue crews are working through the night after a monstrous tornado barreled through the Oklahoma City suburbs, demolishing an elementary school and reducing homes to piles of splintered wood.More >>
Emergency crews searched the broken remnants of an Oklahoma City suburb Tuesday for survivors of a massive tornado that flattened homes and demolished an elementary school. At least 24 people were killed, including at least...More >>
President Barack Obama will be meeting with his disaster response team, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, on Tuesday before delivering a statement on the devastating tornado that tore through...More >>
President Barack Obama pledged urgent government help for Oklahoma Tuesday in the wake of "one of the most destructive" storms in the nation's history.More >>
Many people are looking for ways to help victims of the deadly tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.Some organizations have numbers and websites set up for you to donate.The Red Cross is offering the following waysMore >>
Organizations are offering the public an opportunity to donate to the victims of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.More >>
Today is your first chance to get a look at the 2013 Packers.The Packers started organized team activities Monday, but today will be the first OTA open to fans.OTAs start at 11:30 a.m. on Clarke HinkleMore >>
The Packers started organized team activities Monday, but today will be the first OTA open to fans.More >>
A trucking company has announced a major expansion in Fond du Lac. Con-way Freight says it has plans to build a new, 47,000 square-foot freight service center in Fond du Lac's Fox Ridge Business Park.TheMore >>
Con-way Freight says it plans to build a new, 47,000 square-foot freight service center in Fond du Lac and hire more than 50 people. More >>
The parents and guardians stood in the muddy grass outside a suburban Oklahoma City church, listening intently as someone with a bullhorn called out the names of children who were being dropped off - survivors of...More >>
The parents and guardians stood in the muddy grass outside a suburban Oklahoma City church, listening as someone with a bullhorn called out the names of children who were being dropped off - survivors of a deadly tornado...More >>
Provided to Action 2 News:WASHINGTON, Monday, May 20, 2013 – Our thoughts and concerns go to everyone in Oklahoma following this horrific tornado. The American Red Cross has one shelter open in MooreMore >>
Red Cross volunteers are out tonight with food and supplies supporting first responders. More than 25 emergency response vehicles are positioned to move at first light Tuesday.More >>
The sudden burst of warm weather has sparked an active wasp population. Pest control experts say it's a primary complaint right now on their list of service calls. This nest is one of many that haveMore >>
The recent spell of hot weather is being blamed for a soaring wasp population. The insects are now a top complaint among calls to pest control services. More >>
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says "hearts are broken" for parents wondering about the fate of their children after a tornado devastated suburban Oklahoma City and officials say the search and rescue effort will...More >>
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says "hearts are broken" for parents wondering about the fate of their children after a tornado devastated suburban Oklahoma City and officials say the search and rescue effort will continue...More >>