FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It’s a widespread scam unlike anything the Indiana State Medical Association has ever seen. Leaders say more than 100 doctors have come forward saying someone stole their identity and filed a tax return in their names.
One of the victims is Dr. William Lentz. He’s a dermatologist with Fort Wayne Dermatology Consultants. Dr. Lentz said when he went to file his taxes April 14, someone had already filed in his name, with his social security number.
“You wonder how they would get my social security number and my wife’s also,” Lentz said. “That’s a mystery and I’m hoping it will be solved.”
Earlier in April, the Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) sent out an alert saying fraudsters have targeted physicians, nurses, dentists, and oral surgeons since March.
“We don’t know yet how the physicians’ identities were obtained. We know that a lot of agencies are working to determine why that happened and how that happened,” said Adele Lash, communications director for the ISMA. “Until we determine where the perpetrators got this information, it’s going to be hard to figure out how to prevent it from happening again.”
Dr. Rakesh Chawla is an cardiologist with the Lutheran Healthcare Network. He knows a thing or two about identity theft. Dr. Chawla said fraudsters stole his identity and targeted his 2011 and 2012 tax returns.
“I was able to see those fraudulent tax returns and see in fact the tax refund went in fact for year 2011 and 2012 to an address in Mesquite, Texas in the west side of Dallas. I made the IRS and federal authorities aware of this,” Dr. Chawla said.
The cardiologist encourages any physician who has been targeted to contact the Indiana State Medical Association.
“They will keep hitting it until you make the fraud alert system aware and it protects your account,” Dr. Chawla said. “If you just take it up on an individual basis and don’t share it with your colleagues, they may not be aware and they’re more likely to be susceptible to this identity theft.”
Lash said both the IRS and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office are looking into the widespread scam. No matter the profession, if you’ve been targeted with identity theft, you’re asked to file a claim with both of those agencies.