Steamboat Springs doctors targeted in tax fraud

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— The Steamboat Springs Police Department is warning people about scams and investigating several instances of doctors' Social Security numbers being fraudulently used on tax returns.

Detective Stuart Hutton said he has learned several local doctors have been victimized but it still is unclear whether there were any financial losses.

As to why doctors were targeted, Hutton said their information sometimes is stored on common databases. For instance, doctors belong to the same associations and insurance companies.

"It looks like someone maliciously got into a database," Hutton said.

Once the perpetrator — often foreign — accessed the Social Security numbers, they were used to fill out fraudulent tax forms. The perpetrator then would attempt to have the tax refunds routed to a bank account set up to collect proceeds from the fraud. But in at least one instance, the refund check went to the true owner of the Social Security number under which the taxes were filed.

“We had a person get an actual return check when they didn’t file,” Hutton said.

To help the investigation along, Hutton said he had reached out to the Internal Revenue Service and the Colorado Department of Revenue, but he has not heard back from those agencies.

Hutton said there is no reason to think the perpetrator got into databases maintained by Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Hutton said there likely is not a lot the doctors could have done to protect their Social Security numbers from being used, but there are other scams and frauds occurring in the area of which residents should be aware.

“If it has anything to do with Craigslist or Western Union, beware,” Hutton said.

The most popular scam recently entails people looking to hire drivers, Hutton said. The advertised jobs often promise good money for little work.

“That should be people’s first indication,” Hutton said.

Driver-wanted, work-from-home and reshipping job offers always should be viewed as suspect. The people offering the jobs often are phishing for information. Before offering your information to someone, people should ask themselves one question:

“Is this someone I’d let in my house?” Hutton said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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