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IRS Criminal Investigation Combats Identity Theft Refund Fraud

IRS Criminal Investigation Combats Identity Theft Refund Fraud 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has seen a significant increase in refund fraud that involves identity thieves who file false claims for refunds by stealing and using someone's Social Security number. The investigative work done by Criminal Investigation (CI) is a major component of the IRS’s efforts to combat tax-related identity theft.  

Statistical Data  

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the IRS initiated approximately 1,492 identity theft related criminal investigations, an increase of 66 percent over investigations initiated in FY 2012. Direct investigative time applied to identity theft related investigations has increased 216 percent over the last two years. Prosecution recommendations, indictments, and those convicted and sentenced for identity theft violations have increased dramatically since FY 2011. Sentences handed down for convictions relating to identity theft have been significant, ranging from two months to 317 months. 

 

FY2013

FY 2012

  FY 2011

 Investigations Initiated

1492

898

276

 Prosecution Recommendations

1257

544

218

 Indictments/Informations

1050

494

165

 Sentenced

438

223

80


Enforcement Efforts

Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating and prosecuting identity thieves who attempt to defraud the federal government by filing fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information.

The IRS continues to seek out and identify additional tools and methods to combat the proliferation of tax-related identity theft.  FY 2013 efforts include:  

  • Identity Theft Enforcement Sweeps - In January 2013, Criminal Investigation conducted a coordinated identity theft enforcement sweep in collaboration with DOJ-Tax and United States Attorney’s Offices throughout the country.  This nationwide effort resulted in 734 enforcement actions related to identity theft and refund fraud and involved 389 individuals, 109 arrests, 48 search warrants, and 189 indictments, information and criminal complaints.
  • Law Enforcement Assistance Program - In March 2013, IRS announced to the public that the Law Enforcement Assistance Program, formerly known as the Identity Theft Pilot Disclosure Program, was expanded nationwide.  This program provides for the disclosure of federal tax return information associated with the accounts of known and suspected identity victims of identity theft with the express written consent of those victims.  There are currently more than 300 state/local law enforcement agencies from 35 states participating.  For FY 2013, more than 2,400 requests had been received from state and local law enforcement agencies.
  • Identify Theft Clearinghouse (ITC) - The Identity Theft Clearinghouse (ITC) continues to develop and refer identity theft refund fraud schemes to CI Field Offices for investigation.  For FY 2013 the ITC had received more than 1,400 identity theft related leads. 
  • Data Processing Center (DPC) Identity Theft Victims List Process - This process centralizes identity theft victims’ lists and information forwarded to IRS-CI by other federal, state and local agencies during nationwide investigative efforts.  The information is analyzed and necessary adjustments are made to accounts of taxpayers that are likely targets of ID theft.  The DPC processed over 71.7 percent more identity records in FY 2013 than it did in FY 2012.
  • Multi-Agency Task Forces and Working Groups - CI is the lead agency or actively involved in more than 30 multi-regional task forces or working groups including state/local and federal law enforcement agencies solely focusing on identity theft.      

The latest information on Identity Theft enforcement efforts and individual cases are available on IRS.gov.

 

 

Source:  Internal Revenue Service at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Criminal-Investigation-Combats-Identity-Theft-Refund-Fraud

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