The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) and former con artist made famous by the 2002 film “Catch Me If You Can” are working to increase awareness of the growing problem of tax refund fraud.
Frank Abagnale, who became an FBI security consultant after his prison sentence, told reporters in a Thursday press conference that much of the fraud is not done by Americans. “The criminals overseas realize that I’d much rather go rob from a state government than from a financial institution,” he said.
He said robbing governments are attractive with their vast supplies of money. “The government has become a big target. Whether it be federal, county state or cities,” Abagnale said.
Usually fraudsters will use a real person’s personal information to submit a fake W-2 form that would give them a refund. Government entities that do not catch the fraud will then pay the refund, often well before the legitimate taxpayer files the correct return.
SCDOR has already announced additional steps it will be taking to combat fraud. Taxpayers will not receive their state income-tax refunds until after March 1, regardless of how early they file. The Department of Revenue said the delay will give them time to verify documents with the Internal Revenue Service.
Abagnale has worked with, advised, and consulted with hundreds of financial institutions, corporations and government agencies around the world since his 1974 release. The story of his teen years provided the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film “Catch Me If You Can.”