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One Green Country family will have to prove to the IRS that their child is actually theirs after a stranger claimed their son on a fraudulent tax return.
FOX23 learned that this type of crime is common around tax time.
Violet Saffell said she filed her state and federal income tax return a week and a half later than normal. She said that someone else already used her 3-year-old son’s name and social security number to claim him as a dependent.
“As a parent, you try to protect your child from everything and this is just something that sideswiped us. You can never imagine this happening. Especially to a 3-year-old,” Saffell said.
When Saffell and her husband filed their income tax return online they quickly got a message back from the IRS.
“I actually got told that I was denied because I was told someone already claimed my son on their taxes,” Saffell said.
Saffell said someone had stolen her son’s identity and according to the Tulsa Police Financial Crimes Unit, children's social security numbers are often stolen to commit this type of tax fraud. People like Saffell are now out of thousands of dollars in tax returns.
“We were going to get $2,400 and now we have to pay in about $1,300.”
Saffell said she filed a police report and a dispute with the IRS, which involves a lot of paperwork and notarized proof that her son is actually her son.
She said the most frustrating part is that the IRS can’t tell her who claimed her son as a dependent. Even TPD said they can’t get that information without a subpoena.
“Because of privacy laws we’re not allowed to know the name of the person who stole our son’s identity, which I think is ridiculous. Where were the privacy laws when they took my 3-year-old’s social security number?” Saffell said.
Saffell said she worries about the affect this crime will have on her son in the future.
"He's just a child and he's already tainted because they have used his name and stuff like that in a negative way," Saffell said.
TPD said it is often family members who end up stealing children’s identities, but Saffell said her family members have not filed taxes yet. She said she suspected that her son’s identity may have been stolen more than two and a half years ago when their home was broken into.