Broward man has $24,500 tax return stolen; Uncle Sam says he’s out of luck

‘I’m not asking for a handout,’ he says, just his money back

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A South Florida man says he’s hit roadblock after roadblock with the federal government trying to get his stolen tax return money back.

Roberto Su is out $24,509 after a man walked into a Lake Worth check cashing store with a fake passport card containing Su’s information, but not his correct photo, and cashed the check.

“I have never seen that person in my life,” Su said.

It’s not clear how the suspect was able to get his hands on Su’s money.

“I have never seen the check. I never received the check,” Su said. “I have a mailbox that is tamper-proof, with a key. I have never lost anything here.”

It all started earlier this year, when Su became suspicious when he didn’t receive the check. He called the U.S. Treasury and officials said it had already been cashed and provided him with this location.

Su filed theft reports with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, where he lives, and in Palm Beach County, where the check was cashed.

A police report said the suspect’s thumbprint taken at the check cashing store the day he cashed the check was smudged and couldn’t be used in the data system for comparison. It was useless.

A manager at the store additionally told investigators that their camera system froze up that day.

The police report goes on to say the signature on the check was not legible and didn’t match the real Su’s signature on his driver’s license. It also said this case is inactive pending further investigative leads.

Su said he’s spent months providing U.S. Department of the Treasury investigators with signature comparisons to the one on the back of the check, police reports and a copy of the fake ID.

Uncle Sam’s response? “Your claim is denied.”

“Your claim form, a copy of the check and supporting documentation were referred to the Questioned Documents Branch for examination and comparison,” their response to Su said. “Based on the opinion rendered by the document analyst, your claim is denied and our file in this matter is closed.”

The Treasury Department also denied his appeal.

Su said officials told him that their investigators said the signatures looked similar, to which he replied: “I looked at the signatures...the signature on the check looks like chicken scratch.”

“I’m not asking for a handout; I’m just asking them to do what is right, just like any other credit card company or any other bank,” Su said. “They steal your ID, make charges against you, steal your money, there are federal insurances that cover these situations.”

Local 10 News stopped by the store, but an employee claimed the owner wasn’t there.

The Internal Revenue Service told Local 10 News in a statement that “federal employees cannot disclose tax return information,” basically, no comment.

“When you call there, A, you have to take 3 or 4 hours to get through, B, when you finally get someone on the phone, they treat you like dirt, like if you’re asking for a handout,” Su said. “I’m totally frustrated and upset as to how the government officials have taken this.”

Su says he will appeal again. He’s also contacted Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office for help.

The owner of the check cashing store told Local 10 News by phone he followed the rules, confirmed the check was authentic with the IRS, claimed his thumbprint reader has a quality issue making copies, and couldn’t answer questions about the camera system freezing that day.

As of now, the real Roberto Su may be out $24,509 dollars.

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.