Postal service workers fear tax criminals
In the old days, vicious dogs might have worried mail carriers on their routes, but now it's aggressive criminals that have some Tampa area mail carriers worried. A mail truck break-in followed by the holdup of a carrier at gunpoint last month has some fearful a crime involving tax refund money has gotten dangerous as criminals try to get their hands on checks and debit cards loaded with thousands of dollars. "Now instead of having an eagle on my shirt, I've got a target on my back," said one mail carrier. The tax refund scheme involves fraudsters using other people's identities to file tax returns and get refund money sent though the mail.The Postal Inspection Service says it's trying to stop the suspected fraudulent checks and debit cards before they go out with mail carriers, and has stepped up patrols (with both marked and unmarked police and inspectors) in certain areas. But law enforcement has said the real remedy is to stop the ill-gotten refund money from hitting the mail in the first place. "The solution to this problem is to stop it at the front end, that would be with the IRS," said Barney Morris, assistant inspector in charge for the U.S. Postal Inspection Office in Tampa. "You have to stop it at the source."