First grader sparks tax fraud investigation - WFLA News Channel 8

First grader sparks tax fraud investigation

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Investigators searched a Riverview home Monday night after getting a report that a first grader showed up at school with a plastic bag filled with debit cards commonly associated with tax refund fraud.

The six-year-old removed the bag from her backpack when the teacher asked students to retrieve their schoolwork, said Corp. Bruce Crumpler of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The bag contained 52 cards, four of which were marked with names of family members and 48 of which had other names on them, he said.

"We're not sure how they got inside her backpack, we're still investigating that," he said. "I don't believe she actually knew what they were at the time, I think she thought she was pulling out some flashcards for school."

The girl played in the neighborhood and her mother sat just outside their home while a deputy stood nearby as law enforcement executed a search warrant  Monday night. No arrests were made Monday but an investigation is ongoing.

Crumpler heads up a team at the sheriff's office investigating the tax refund crime in which criminals use stolen identities to file fake tax returns and get refund money from the government. The crime has exploded in the Bay area over the past few years and law enforcement has created special task forces and initiatives to combat the problem.

"This is a new one," Crumpler said. We've done a lot of search warrants, I've been involved in this tax fraud business since the inception of it and just when you think you've seen it all, you have a six-year-old that comes to school with a bunch of debit cards."

When investigators searched the girl's home, Crumpler said they found more of the debit cards. Authorities are often on the lookout for the cards because suspects have fraudulent refund money loaded onto them.

In addition to the cards and some computers, investigators also seized a safe, and pricey items including a large-screen TV and motorized children's scooters.

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