Athens, GA-

A Monroe family is facing the identity theft of their deceased daughter after someone unrelated to them claimed her in their income tax return.

Melanie and John Winstanley  are shocked and are looking for answers.

“We miss her so much. She was a beautiful human being. And we miss her, but at the same time we wouldn’t want to see her suffer the pain she did,” says Melanie Winstanley

Seven-year-old Laura Gwen, passed away almost a year ago after a lifelong struggle with health issues. The seven year old was born 12 weeks early, and weighed a mere one pound . When she was two she was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder.

“I remember when she was at the hospital she was so sick. I just told her Laura, you have to get up, there’s so much more to life than just this sickness. And she did that, she enjoyed life to the fullest,” her mom says.

Her family is still coming to terms after her death, and now they are facing another challenge; someone stole her name to make more money after filing their tax return. Laura’s mother says it all began when they couldn’t claim her electronically this past Monday.

“When I found out, it was like a kick in the gut. It was like her we are,we are still mourning her and we miss her so much. And now we are going to have to go through all these things to prove she was our daughter,” Winstanley says.

Winstanley says that she wants the person who did this to them to know how much he hurt her, but says that her daughter’s memory has helped her deal with her emotions. She says,

“You know when I would go to supermarket people were rude, and wouldn’t pay attention. And I’d be like “you don’t know what I’m going through.” But Laura Helped me realized I didn’t know what they were going through. One of the lesson’s she taught me was to give other people grace.”

We contacted the IRS, but  never heard back from them.

-Reported by Vanessa Flores

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