Tony Chilicas and his fiancé, Holly, are getting married in July.
But their walk down the aisle will only be symbolic. Chilicas refused to make it legally official.
“I don’t want her taking my last name until this is done,” he said.
It’s because of another man: Jorge Campos Ramirez.
But this isn’t some messy love triangle. It’s an unbelievable case of identity theft that’s messed with Chilicas’ life for a decade.
He’s far from alone. From 2011 to 2015, internal Treasury Department records show the IRS knew of 1.1 million employment-related identity theft victims who have never been notified.
For those who know they’re victims, it can feel impossible to untangle the fraud and get their identity back.
“(It’s been) hell,” he said. “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”
In 2003, Chilicas said he lost his wallet.
“I was a dumb kid and kept my social security card in my wallet,” he said.
Then in 2006, during a traffic stop, Tempe Police Found Jorge Campos Ramirez had Chilicas’ information on a pay slip.
Quote from PD report: "He admitted to using Chilicas’ identity to work. He claimed someone sold him that information."
But Chilicas said it’s not just Ramirez.
“At least 17 different people have had my ID, at least,” he said. “There’s a guy in California right now who’s using it at a bar.”
Over the years, those people have earned money using Chilicas’ name but not paid enough taxes. The IRS has dumped him with massive bills and even seized bank accounts.
Chilicas showed ABC15 years of correspondence with the IRS and many of the bills he’s been sent by the IRS. The sums are staggering.
Here’s a series of unpaid tax demands he received last year: $9,609 on May 23; $11,979 on March 14; $25,948 on March 2.
Chilicas has worked with attorneys for years to try and rectify the issues. They even filed an identity-theft victim affidavit with the IRS and attached the Tempe Police report documenting Ramirez case.
But he said all of it has gotten him anywhere.
“They want their money, they don’t care about me. I don’t have much but what I have is mine,” Chilicas said.
What’s happened with Chilicas is different from the tax identity theft that usually makes the news. In the last few years, millions of people have had their returns stolen because thieves filed for their returns first.
But ABC15 did find that Chilicas situation isn’t isolated.
An investigative reporter in Florida highlighted her own similar battle with the IRS in a news report earlier this year. Terri Parker, with WPBF, wrote that she hasn’t received a tax refund in years. Parker also interviewed an attorney who was dealing with the same problem and couldn’t get it resolved.
The IRS inability to police identity theft has been well-documented internally. In August 2016, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration published a report finding that IRS processes “are not sufficient to assist victims” of identity theft.
That’s no surprise to Chilicas and his fiancé.
“Until this gets solved, we can’t move on with the rest of our lives,” she said.
ABC15 has connected Chilicas with staff members from the offices of both Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain to try and sort his issues out. Chilicas is also now attempting to work with the IRS’s tax advocacy service to correct the issues.
If you’re dealing with an identity theft situation similar to Tony Chilicas, contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at email@example.com