Sisters scam Wisconsin Department of Revenue
The scary part is the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has no idea how the women got a hold of people's personal information.
\"They had lists of names and addresses, social security numbers and that they were using those in different combinations to try to file their returns,\" said Stephanie Marquis, with the Department of Revenue.
They found notebooks full of personal information at each Staten sisters' home during a search in 2012.
Investigators also found employer information from businesses like K Mart and Walmart which they say was used to create fake W-2 statements on the internet.
\"It was an elaborate scam that was difficult to catch because they were using real people and real information from employers to file their fake claims,\" said Marquis.
So elaborate, it took investigators two years to gather all the evidence they needed. They say the women tried stealing a large chunk of change from the state...two to three hundred dollars at a time.
\"Definitely tried to get a total of nearly a million in tax refunds or other claims and they tried to do that by claiming very small amounts,\" said Marquis.
And they were successful. When investigators finally caught up to them they found hundreds of checks and prepaid debit cards at the Staten sisters homes that were issued to other people.
\"But because they were using real information from real people and real employers it was one of those that we really took a look at everything that that was going on, comprehensively and that's why we were able to identify that there were at least two thousand different claims that they had attempted,\" said Marquis.
In total, the sisters got away with $235,000.
\"When we could and we were able to identify some of the victims we certainly reached out to those victims, interviewed them, talked to them made them aware. Unfortunately this is one of those cyber security types of scams where not sure where they got the original information from and I think that's a reminder to all of us about how people are constantly looking to use your information,\" said Marquis.
The Wisconsin DOR says they work diligently to check all tax information and through those checks ended up blocking $975,000 of fake returns from the Staten sisters.
\"That's why its so important again that we have these safeguards in place and we tell people that we working on verifying identifications and send letters and ask for documentation is to stop these types of scams that are taking place,\" said Marquis.