State holds thousands of refund checks due to tax fraud

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Because of criminals, the state is holding 90,000 refund checks. Officials are busy sorting out the fake returns from the real ones.

The state’s Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan says they’re not sure whether they’ve seen a spike in fraud, or if they’re just catching more cases with their new screens.

“I know how much we’ve determined to be fraud, and right now I can tell you that are in the probably 10,000 or so filer range, and probably several million dollars are involved in that,” he said.

“I decided we would err on the side of caution,” said Sullivan. “I know it’s an inconvenience for some taxpayers expecting their refund, but it’s better to get your refund than have it stolen.”

He says the refunds will begin flowing again soon.

While Sullivan isn’t sure Connecticut has seen a spike in tax fraud, Turbo Tax spokesperson Julie Miller says the crime is on the rise.

“It’s driven by dramatic increases in identity theft across the industry,” she said.

Sullivan says first-time filers can be a prime target for fraud, so this year they sent paper checks even if the filer asked for direct deposit.

“We have three different screens in place, which I won’t describe in any detail,” he said. “Two of them are internal, one of them is international, and we use those in order to identify suspicious filers.”

He also added there’s not much businesses like TurboTax, TaxACT, and H&R Block can do up front.

“Creating a fake account with real information is hard to detect,” said Sullivan.

He says the people stealing this information are hard to track down as they’re often overseas in places like Russia.

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