Tax scammers stealing Mid-Southerners' identities - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Tax scammers stealing Mid-Southerners' identities

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Tamaracina Birdse of Memphis is due in federal court on Wednesday to be sentenced after scamming Mid-Southerners through a tax scheme.

Birdse stole people's personal identity, then falsely filed taxes in their name. She pocketed more than $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Birdse used easy-access software to electronically file false returns.

With tax season around the corner, you may want to take extra precautions.

Accountant Michael Wilson says new tax clients typically sign with him, after a frustrating experience. "Identity theft or someone prepared their tax returns erroneously."

MORE: How do you report suspected tax fraud activity?
MORE: Taxpayer Assistance Centers locations, hours

Cortneyo Bougard of Cordova was recently sentenced to about seven years after he paid people to steal identities.  Then Bougard used Turbo Tax to electronically file more than 100 false returns between 2009 and 2011. 

"I often wonder what were you thinking when you gave them this information? More or less they were trying to get it done fast, see how much they could get refund for," says Wilson.

Wilson recommends you safeguard your identity, keep your social security number in a safe deposit box, and make Internet purchases with legitimate vendors.

But, he admits crooks are often a step ahead of authorities.

Bougard managed to collect nearly $500,000, but part of his sentence requires he pay the money back in restitution. While Bougard and Birdse are separate cases, FOX13 News has learned the schemers may have run in the same circle.

If you suspect someone stole your identity, alert the IRS and file a police report. Wilson recommends you also check with the IRS to find out whether your CPA is registered with them.

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