Over $700 dollars owed to the state of California by a convicted felon was instead taken from a grandmother's savings account by state workers who failed to double-check prison paperwork, CBS Sacramento reports.
How did that happen?
In California, when a felon goes off to serve his time, he can give any name, date of birth, or Social Security number he wants (because what could possibly go wrong?). One felon, Jermain Kirk, gave a faulty Social Security number. So, instead of deducting the $721 dollars owed to the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board from his account, it was taken out of Jeanne Miller’s account.
"I just figured it was something I owed, and I was going to pay it,” said Miller.
Miller’s son Eric Hemminger decided to get to the bottom of the filing error.
“It was from the people who collect taxes, so she thought maybe it was a late fee for taxes and we hadn’t filed on time,” said Hemminger.
"I contacted the bank and they said there’s nothing they can do. It was a court order and they have to abide by it and that we’d have to talk to the state," he added.
Is there really no mechanism in place that double-check information given by convicted felons in prison?
“[C]laims board officials say they have no ability to double check Social Security numbers provided by inmates. The Franchise Tax Board says it can, but they quickly added this wasn’t their fault. They refused to go on camera answering how this happened,” CBS Sacremento reports.
If you think that’s ridiculous get ready for this one: It could take up to 16 weeks for the state to refund Miller her $721 dollars.
"I was told, ‘Hey, you’re not special. There’s a lot of people before you and after you that this same thing has happened to,'" said Hemminger.
Of course, once local media got involved, state officials became a little more sympathetic.
"Still unbelievable that it would happen," said Miller.
“The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tells us it’s aware prisoners are giving inaccurate information. They’re now talking about validating Social Security numbers right when the felon is locked up,” the report adds.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, says there needs to be more oversight.
"They should be double-checking," said Coupal. "We have an innocent victim here who’s having money taken out of her account illegally and inappropriately."
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