Since Jan. 1, the Cape Girardeau Police Department has taken an average of one report per day of identity theft leading to the fraudulent filing of tax returns. Spokesman Darin Hickey says that amount is “astronomically higher,” than in past years. Hickey says last week the number surpassed 100 for the year so far. Rampant reports of false filings using stolen personal information throughout the country have the Internal Revenue Service looking at a potentially record-setting year for dealing with tax-return fraud. The number of identity theft/tax return fraud incidents rose nearly 85 percent, to 2.9 million, from 2010 to 2013. Thieves normally get away with a $7,000 to $8,000 refund per return, and it can take a minimum of three months for the IRS to sort out who is the true owner of information and send out a refund to the actual taxpayer. Hickey said a detective who investigates financial crimes turns reports over to the IRS, and the department advises victims they can fill out an IRS identity-theft affidavit and a visit to the local IRS office to submit extra proof of identification documents. Once a taxpayer has reported identity theft, the IRS will issue a personal identification number designed to protect the taxpayer from future fraud. The PIN is used to work through the process of being issued a refund. Government estimates show the scam calls are topping 10,000 per week.