EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSTAX FRAUD
from Eyewitness News Online
Mingo Couple Claims Neighbor's Baby On Tax Return
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Feb. 8, 2012 10:20 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 8, 2012 10:31 PM EST
Delbarton , Mingo County , West Virginia
A Mingo County couple is arrested after claiming a neighbor's daughter on their income tax return.
Delbarton police say they're in shock over how easy it was for the couple to pull off such a stunt.
"They admitted to it, and they didn't think they'd get into any trouble," explains Delbarton Police Chief Stephen Hughes, but trouble is exactly what Woodrow Prater, Jr. and his wife, Amy Blanton have landed themselves in.
The couple lives at the Mingo County Housing Authority's HOPE House in Delbarton. It's a place where homeless families can stay up to two years until they get back on their feet.
The couple apparently decided to take advantage of another struggling family. Somehow, they got their neighbor's 11-month-old daughter's social security number and birth date, and claimed her as their own on their income taxes.
"I asked them how much money, total income, was coming back to them and they said $4,500," said Hughes.
Instead of keeping their crime quiet, police say they were bragging about it to others in the building, who, in turn, told the victims, who then told police.
"It's an unfortunate situation when you deal with the types of people that we're dealing with here at the HOPE house," explains executive director Belinda Harness.
Chief Hughes says he was blown away at how easy it was for the couple to pull off the scheme.
"They're both married and she carries a different name than he does, and the child has another name naturally than the so-called parents," he says.
On the way to jail, Hughes says the couple said they planned to a buy a car with the money.
They are charged with felony obtaining money by false pretenses, but police say federal charges are likely.
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