Parents Call Dead Son’s Identity Theft “Modern Day Grave Robbing”

By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV

SANDWICH (CBS) – Some grieving Cape Cod parents say scam artists are adding to their suffering after the loss of their only son.

Richie Bellis was 16-years-old when he slammed his dirt bike into a steel gate and died. Now, a year-and-a-half later, they’ve received a letter from the I.R.S. entitled, “You need to make sure someone is your dependent.” The letter explains that someone else has claimed their late son as a dependent.

They did some research on line, and found that with just a few keystrokes, they were able to get their son’s private information, including his social security number.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports

“This is somebody out there violating Richie’s memory and identity for a tax refund,” says Gerry Bellis. He and his wife call it modern day grave-robbing. “It’s appalling. It’s horrific, and as grieving parents, it turns the knife in your heart a little deeper,” says Carol Bellis.

A 1980 law requires the Social Security Administration to publicly post the social security numbers of recently deceased people. Lawmakers in Washington have proposed a bill that would limit access to that information. Gerry and Carol Bellis say they’ll push to make sure the law is passed.

“We love our son so much and we will always be an advocate, whether here on Earth or in Heaven,” says his mother.

More from Christina Hager
  • mafh12609

    Reblogged this on Melissa Versus the World and commented:
    It amazes me, and concerns me greatly, that the Government is a partial perpetrator in this type of heinous crime. We should all step-up and ensure that the law that prohibits and/or limits access to the SSN’s of the recently deceased is passed. However, I do not feel the laws should be limited to children, as some states are proposing. ALL persons should be protected. I checked the SSDI after reading this and was able to pull up my Father, Mother, and Grandmother, all of whom have passed away since 2005, and obtain their SSN’s.

    I encourage everyone to do your part, write to your lawmakers, and ensure that legislation is passed to protect those who can no longer protect themselves.

  • Bob

    The reason the SSDI is on line is so potential employers and others, such as these parents, can verify if anyone is using a deaceased person’s SS number for fraudulant gain.Obviously it worked, Ritche’s parents were contacted by the IRS concerning his dependent status. What more can you ask for?

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