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

By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV
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Richie Bellis died in a dirt bike accident. His identity was stolen over a year later.

Richie Bellis died in a dirt bike accident. His identity was stolen over a year later.

WBZ-TV's Christina Hager Christina Hager
Award-winning reporter Christina Hager works as a general assignmen...
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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.

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