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IRS identity theft crackdown leads to 109 arrests
From: Erica Absetz <eabsetz () opensecurityfoundation org>
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2013 14:33:00 -0600

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/02/07/irs-identity-theft-enforcement/1899059/

The IRS says a coast-to-coast campaign against tax-related identity
theft led to more than 700 enforcement actions last month, including
arrests and indictments.

Federal authorities took action against 389 people suspected of
involvement in identity theft to commit tax fraud, the IRS said
Thursday.

Announced as the annual federal tax-filing season begins, the
nationwide actions include 109 arrests and 189 indictments, plus court
complaints and informations, said acting IRS Commissioner Steven
Miller.

The bulk of the enforcement actions took place on the East Coast and
in the Midwest, a map released Thursday by the IRS shows.

BACKLOG: IRS struggles to help victims of identity theft

Additionally, IRS auditors and criminal investigators in late January
started visiting 197 money service businesses, including check-cashing
stores, to ensure the locations don't aid identity theft or refund
fraud. The visits focus on 17 high-risk areas identified by the IRS in
or near New York; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Tampa; Miami; Chicago;
Houston; Phoenix; Los Angeles; San Diego; El Paso; Tucson; Birmingham;
Detroit; San Francisco; Oakland and San Jose.

Part of a year-long IRS crackdown, the effort targets thieves who gain
access to other people's Social Security numbers and other identifying
information, and then use that information to concoct and file
fraudulent federal tax returns — and collect unwarranted refunds.

"As tax season begins this year, we want to be clear that there is a
heavy price to pay for perpetrators of refund fraud and identity
theft," said Miller. "We have aggressively stepped up our efforts to
pursue and prevent refund fraud and identity theft, and we will
continue to intensely focus on this area.

The tax agency has added additional computer screening filters in an
effort to stop the crime, said Miller. Although he acknowledged the
filters could slow IRS processing of some legitimate tax returns and
refunds, Miller said the tax agency would work to keep any delays to a
minimum.

Additionally, the IRS as of late 2012 had assigned more than 3,000
employees to work on identity theft-related work, said Miller. That's
more than double the number devoted to the area in 2011, he said.

In all, the IRS says its efforts in 2012 "protected" against $20
billion in fraudulent refunds, most of which are directly related to
identity theft. That compares with $14 billion in 2011.

Miller said the IRS is making progress in fighting identity theft
refund fraud, but still has room to improve. The agency is working to
speed the time it takes to get refunds to honest taxpayers victimized
by the crimes, he said.
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