ARLINGTON –– Last year, 87-year-old Dannie Goree discovered the IRS gave someone claiming to be her more than $12,000 in a tax refund –– an especially alarming amount considering she makes just $800 a month.
"Someone had stolen my identity," Goree said.
They didn’t use her credit; they claimed a tax refund in her name. The perpetrator, Ms. Goree now knows, added an 'L' to her name, making it Danniel Goree, and, using her address, succeeded in getting the IRS to send a refund.
Goree discovered this last fall, when she got a bill from the IRS for $12,000. (The amount now totals more than $13,000, because the interest has been mounting up since 2009, when it all happened).
An exceedingly polite and methodical woman, Goree estimates she's spent 24 hours on the phone trying to convince the IRS she didn't get the money.
She and her son, Lee Triggs, went to the IRS in Fort Worth to explain prove her case. The IRS, she says, believes them. But it hasn't expunged the black mark from her record yet. The agency won't talk about her case, but says it has hired more personnel to held victimized taxpayers clean up their cases.
The IRS tries to clean up each case in six months. But identity theft refund crooks are multiplying like mosquitoes in still water. In the first four months of this year, there were almost as many identity theft refund suspects as there were for all of 2012.
These are men like Phillip Francis Busch, formerly of Addison, who sucked $180,000 of phony tax refunds out of taxpayers a year before Ms. Goree was victimized. Busch is now in federal prison, which, it turns out, is a hotbed of tax fraud. Thousands of inmates in federal prison file phony tax returns each year, and the IRS is implementing new software programs to catch them and others before it mails the money.
If the IRS knows who victimized Ms. Goree, it isn't saying.
Meanwhile, she and her son Lee Triggs, who's helped her try to clean her record, are waiting.
"She owes it now, and until they tell her in writing we have absolved you from this debt and you no longer owe it, then the meter's still running," Lee says. "And there's added stress."
A lot of identity theft tax fraud takes place when crooks claim the identities of dead people. Although Dannie Goree shows no signs of leaving this earth soon, she wishes the IRS would stop sending her bogus tax bills –– like they promised seven months ago –– and let her live the rest of her life.