Stroke victim falls prey to income tax ID theft - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Stroke victim falls prey to income tax ID theft

Many of us file our taxes and either get a refund or pay Uncle Sam.

However,  more and more people are filing and then finding out someone else has already filed their taxes. It happened to a Savannah woman while she was recovering from a massive stroke.

Lori Stuart, former Rhythm Riot frontwoman and Savannah musician, fought for her life. And now, she wants to fight her identity thieves.

"To say I am livid about this is the understatement of the year," Stuart said, speaking instead of blinking like she did to communicate two years ago.

Once a feisty rock singer always a feisty rock singer.

Two years ago, Lori Stuart defied doctors who gave her no chance to live after a massive stroke. She's not only talking, but she is breathing fire. 

"I'd cuss them out," Stuart said.

Hooked up to an oxygen tank, breathing with a tube in her throat and confined to a motorized chair, Lori Stuart held nothing back recalling how she found out someone not only stole her identity, but filed a tax return in her name, using her social security number.

"I was mad... I felt betrayed," Stuart said. 

"Given everything that has happened to Lori over the last two years, to have this happen, I'm just....speechless," Rob Stuart, Lori's husband, told WTOC.

Rob Stuart said last month, the IRS sent him a letter denying his joint tax return. The IRS told him Lori already filed one. Rob knew that wasn't true, since, as a musician, she hadn't filed one in years and didn't work the last two years.

He immediately suspected identity theft.

"I was shocked. That's what I do for a living. I teach network security. I'm just shocked her information was stolen," Stuart said. "I can say for a fact it wasn't something that happened here, like malware or anything like that."

The Stuart's received a letter from a creditor saying Lori's information was stolen and they filed a police report.

They pray the thieves get caught.

"I want to prosecute them to the fullest," Stuart said.  "It's a fraud...It's a felony." 

"Between January and June we get inundated with these cases," said Det. Ray Woodberry, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Financial Crimes Unit, told WTOC. "We probably get three or four a week during that time period."

Woodberry says all it takes is your social security number getting into the wrong hands.

They counterfeit a W-2 and they use that to file your taxes," he said.

The chances of catching the identity crooks are slim.

"It can be anybody. Anybody who got your social security number, a neighbor, family member or total stranger," he said.

"If it turns out it's someone who knows her who take advantage of her, it's just...despicable," Rob Stuart said.

The thieves did get a few hundred dollars refund. Lori has something else to give them.

"I would tell them they are sick," she said.

She give them a piece of her mind.

"They are sick for doing this to a handicap person," Lori said.

SCMPD Financial Crimes offer some advice, including guarding your social security number by  shredding all personal documents, not giving your social security number to anyone over the phone and only on websites you trust.

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