Traffic stop leads to stolen refunds

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —

Victims discovering their tax refund check was stolen say they don't know when they'll see their money.

Channel 2 Action News broke the story Tuesday that the U.S. Postal Inspector is investigating a case involving stolen mail.

Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh tracked down more details about the traffic stop that led police to the stolen refunds.

Gwinnett County police said they stopped the vehicle on Interstate 85 near Buford Monday for something as simple as tailgating. They say when the officer approached the car, he smelled marijuana, and the people inside the car let the officer search it.

The officer noted in his report that he found checks and cash in the compartment for the spare tire.

"My heart sank. It really did," Brandy Carlisle said. Hers was one of the checks stolen.

The Smyrna mother said she was at the IRS office trying to track down her tax refund check when Kavanaugh called.

Arrest warrants name her along with 39 other victims whose checks were stolen.

Carlise said she, like many others, was counting on her refund.

"I'm one of the poor, working-hard people that work day-to-day just to survive," she said.

Channel 2 was in court as two suspects allegedly caught with an estimated $42,000 in stolen Treasury checks and $8,000 in cash told the judge they need a public defender.

Jimmy Rush, of Decatur, and Porchia Rumph, of Conyers, face more than 60 combined counts of second-degree forgery for possessing the checks.

But investigators don't know where they got them.

On Tuesday, Channel 2 Action News learned the U.S. Postal Inspector was investigating stolen mail. Wednesday, they said neither Rush nor Rumph ever worked for the postal service.

Carlisle said she filed for an electronic refund. But instead, she got an email saying her check was in the mail. Now, it's in evidence.

"So you have to do more work to get the money that you're due?" Kavanaugh asked.

"Exactly," Carlisle said.

The Secret Service also is working the case. They said victims need to contact the IRS and ask for Form 1133 to report their check stolen.