Identity theft crackdown sweeps across
the nation; more than 250 actions taken
|WASHINGTON (Internal Revenue Service) — The Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) and the Justice Department announced the results
of a massive national sweep cracking down on suspected identity theft
perpetrators as part of a stepped-up effort against refund fraud and
Working with the Justice Department’s Tax Division and local U.S.
Attorneys’ offices, the nationwide effort targeted 105 people in 23
states. The coast-to-coast effort took place over the last week and
included indictments, arrests and the execution of search warrants
involving the potential theft of thousands of identities and taxpayer
refunds. In all, 939 criminal charges are included in the 69 indictments
and informations related to identity theft.
In addition, IRS auditors and investigators conducted extensive
compliance visits to money service businesses in nine locations across
the country in the past week. The approximately 150 visits occurred to
help ensure these check-cashing facilities aren’t facilitating refund
fraud and identity theft.
“This unprecedented effort against identity theft sends a strong,
unmistakable message to anyone considering participating in a refund
fraud scheme this tax season,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We
are aggressively pursuing cases across the nation with the Justice
Department, and people will be going to jail. This is part of a much
wider effort under way at the IRS to help protect taxpayers.”
“The Justice Department is working closely with the IRS to investigate,
prosecute, and punish tax refund crimes committed through the theft of
identities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John A.
DiCicco of the Tax Division. “Now, more than ever, we must remain
vigilant against the unauthorized use of identification information to
defraud the U.S. government.”
The national effort is part of a comprehensive identity theft strategy
the IRS has embarked on that is focused on preventing, detecting and
resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. In addition to the
law-enforcement crackdown, the IRS has stepped up its internal reviews
to spot false tax returns before tax refunds are issued as well as
working to help victims of the identity theft refund schemes.
The law-enforcement sweep started in late January, reflecting
investigative efforts stretching back months and even years.
A map of the locations and additional details on the actions are
available on IRS.gov, the IRS Civil and Criminal Actions
page and at the Department of Justice Tax Division page
http://www.justice.gov/tax/taxpress2012.htm has the most-recent
In addition, the IRS has more than 250 check-cashing operations under
audit across the country and will be looking for indicators of identity
theft as part of the exam effort.
The information from these audits and compliance visits will be used to
assist continuing IRS investigations into refund fraud and identity
The IRS also is taking a number of additional steps this tax season to
prevent identity theft and detect refund fraud before it occurs. These
efforts include designing new identity theft screening filters that will
improve the IRS’s ability to spot false returns before they are
processed and before a refund is issued, as well as expanded efforts to
place identity theft indicators on taxpayer accounts to track and manage
identity theft incidents.
To help taxpayers, the IRS created a new, special section on IRS.gov
dedicated to identity theft matters, including YouTube videos, tips for
taxpayers and a special guide to assistance. The information includes
how to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit and tips to
protect against “phishing” schemes that can lead to identity theft.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personal information
without their permission to commit fraud or other crimes using the
victim’s name, Social Security number or other identifying information.
When it comes to federal taxes, taxpayers may not be aware they have
become victims of identity theft until they receive a letter from the
If a taxpayer receives a notice from the IRS indicating identity theft,
they should follow the instructions in that notice. A taxpayer who
believes they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen
personal information should contact the IRS immediately so the agency
can take action to secure their tax account. The taxpayer should contact
the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. The
taxpayer will be asked to complete the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit,
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf, and follow the
instructions on the back of the form based on their situation.
Taxpayers looking for additional information can consult the Taxpayer
Guide to Identity Theft
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=251501,00.html or the IRS
Identity Theft Protection page