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UPMC McKeesport employees targeted in scams

By Patrick Cloonan and Eric Slagle
Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 2:51 a.m.
 

Police departments across the Mon-Yough area received complaints about a series of scams that targeted UPMC McKeesport employees.

“We've had a couple,” said McKeesport police Chief Bryan Washowich, who noted four UPMC employees have filed complaints over the past several days.

Washowich said the department is in communication with the Internal Revenue Service on the matter and victims are being referred to the tax service.

Some reports were filed after news broke that at least 22 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center employees had been targeted by a tax fraud scheme.

“Someone had filed tax returns in her name,” West Mifflin police Chief Ken Davies said of a woman's complaint received by his department on Wednesday afternoon.

Davies said a second woman came in on Thursday afternoon saying she was approached about both scams, Ally Bank and IRS.

In Port Vue, while two complaints were received regarding tax fraud, separate letters were sent to residents supposedly from Ally Bank in Fort Washington, near Philadelphia.

The Ally Bank scam surfaced with that involving tax returns.

One letter to a Port Vue resident suggested the need to talk about “an important matter relative to a deposit account at Ally Bank,” while the other merely said a bank official “tried to reach” a customer without success “to discuss (an) account.”

Ally is based in Detroit and is an outgrowth of the old General Motors Acceptance Corp. It has corporate centers in 11 cities including Pittsburgh.

“Ally Bank goes to great lengths to identify and prevent fraud,” spokeswoman Andrea Puchalsky said in an email on Thursday afternoon.

“If a consumer believes an unauthorized account has been opened in their name, they should contact us and also review their credit reports for potential fraud,” Puchalsky continued. “Our security and fraud units are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the matter and make the maximum recovery of any misappropriated funds.”

An IRS spokeswoman declined comment because of federal disclosure law, but pointed to a special section on IRS.gov dedicated to identity theft issues, including YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and an assistance guide.

She said taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft because of lost or stolen personal information can call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.

Multiple complaints were filed with other departments including five in Elizabeth Township.

Glassport police Chief Howard Kifer said his department has had two hospital employees filecomplaints.

Kifer said one of the victims “went to H&R Block and was told it may take six months to get her tax return” because of the breach.

Kifer said the department is filing complaints and giving victims IRS complaint forms.

Liberty police Chief Luke Riley said one borough resident came in about the breach.

“They needed a (police) report for their bank,” Riley said.

Liberty police are forwarding the information to the IRS as well.

Davies said those with complaints can “start the ball rolling” by calling their local police departments, though eventually the matter likely will be turned over to other agencies.

Neither matter has been brought to the attention of Allegheny County authorities, said District Attorney Stephen Zappala's spokesman Mike Manko.

While at least one tax scam case may involve Pennsylvania income tax, a Revenue Department spokeswoman said she could not comment on specific cases because of confidentiality. But spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell pointed to an ID Validation program of security measures started by her department this year to identify and intercept fraudulent refund filings. Brassell said her department is proactive and cooperative with other agencies investigating such matters.

Staff Writer Tim Karan contributed to this story. Patrick Cloonan and Eric Slagle are staff writers for Trib Total Media. They can be reached at 412-664-9161, Cloonan at ext. 1967 or pcloonan@tribweb.com, Slagle at ext. 1966 or eslagle@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


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