JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Unlike many people, the Coffey household looks forward to filing their tax return every year.
"We need our money just like anybody else does," Tarnee Coffey said.
That's why they had their accountant file electronically in early February. They were expecting a $1,354 refund.
"Normally in the past it has taken about two weeks for the IRS to deposit the funds to our checking account," Coffey said.
After a few weeks, the Coffey's started checking their account every morning for that big IRS payday that never happened.
That's because someone stole her husband's identity, and filed with the IRS before they did.
"The person had filed a 1040 EZ return using my husband's social security number," she said.
To make matters worse, they had to prove to the IRS that Richard Coffey, Jr. was really Richard Coffey, Jr.
"They sent a letter that my husband had to take to his employer requesting proof of who he was," Coffey said.
Still, they got no refund from the IRS, and didn't really get any answers.
"Call back in three weeks. Call back in three weeks. We do everything in three weeks," Coffey said they heard repeatedly.
After 10 months, the IRS deposited the refund into an account. But, it wasn't the Coffey's account.
"And they were direct deposited to the fraudulent account that filed the bogus return using my husband's social security number," Coffey said.
Now the Coffeys are left with a lot of paperwork, proof the IRS owes them their refund.
It was a refund that was going to take the family on a summer vacation. "I'm sure if we had not paid them, our wages probably would have been garnished by now," Coffey said.
According to the IRS, this is a growing problem. There are actually employment rings that sell social security numbers so people can legally work in this country.
To protect yourself, the IRS said to always inspect your W-2's right when you get them, just in case there are extra wages you don't recognize.
They also recommend contacting an IRS taxpayer advocate, though, in this case, that still has not helped.
First Coast News