ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando company devoted to investigating paranormal events in Central Florida is in the middle of a very different kind of investigation: unemployment tax fraud.
[WEB EXTRA: IRS info]
David LaFaver, the founder and sole investigator of the P.T.O., Paranormal Team of Orlando, has been told his company's tax identification number was used in 2012 to collect unemployment benefits in Irving, Texas.
"I have no employees, that's what gets me," LaFaver tells ClickOrlando.com. "Somebody used my information and I don't know how they got my company's tax number to be able to file in the first place."
LaFaver received the call from an investigator with the Texas Workforce Commission last week.
He says the investigator wanted to know if he had filled out a 940 tax form, the form used for unemployment insurance.
According to LaFaver someone in Irving, Texas had filed for unemployment benefits claiming to have earned roughly $7,000 in wages with his company.
Lisa Givens, Communications chief for the Texas Workforce Commission, says she is "not at liberty to discuss the case" but added that,"nothing would surprise me at this point."
Unemployment benefits schemes like this have cost Texas "millions" according to Givens.
The address of a virtual office facility near the Dallas International Airport is considered a possible connection to the tax preparer but an operator with the facility told LaFaver there are many companies that operate out of the facility some for a week, some much longer.
Tax Identification theft "tops" the IRS' so called Dirty Dozen consumer alerts for the 2014 tax season.
According to the IRS website, "identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In many cases, an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer's identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund."
Jennifer Spooner a CPA and Tax Director with Orlando based Cross, Fernandez and Riley says the LaFaver case is a story of how someone goes to "great extent" to steal from the government.
"There has to be some connection with Texas," Spooner said. "So someone either falsified reports, registered, possibly to do business in Texas and then filed for the (unemployment) claims."
The IRS has a special section on IRS.gov dedicated to identity theft issues, including YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and an assistance guide. For victims, the information includes how to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. For other taxpayers, there are tips on how taxpayers can protect themselves against identity theft.