Tuesday, March 22, 2016

IRS Publicizes Success in Prosecuting Identity Theft Refund Fraud (3/22/16)

The IRS continues to struggle with identify theft, even as it has notable successes in prosecutions.  Yesterday, the IRS published a webpage titled:  "IRS’s Top 10 Identity Theft Prosecutions: Criminal Investigation Continues Efforts to Halt Refund Fraud," here.  By announcements such as this, the IRS wants to discourage other would be identity thieves from attempting identity theft and to give some assurance that the IRS's "cops are on the beat."

The IRS's message from the selected 10 examples is that identify theft is serious and draws serious sentencings, with the principals involved receiving over 70 months (some well in excess of 100 months) incarceration (persons with lesser roles receive lesser, but still significant sentences).

In addition to these examples, the web page concludes with a description of the resources deployed for identify theft:
During FY 2015, Criminal Investigation continued to dedicate significant time and resources to bringing down identity thieves attempting to defraud the federal government. 
The nationwide Law Enforcement Assistance Program provides for the disclosure of federal tax return information associated with the accounts of known and suspected victims of identity theft with the express written consent of those victims. There are now more than 1,100 state/local law enforcement agencies from 48 states participating. For FY 2015, more than 6,700 requests were received from state and local law enforcement agencies. 
The Identity Theft Clearinghouse (ITC) continues to develop and refer identity theft refund fraud schemes to Criminal Investigation Field Offices for investigation. Since its inception in FY 2012, it has received over 10,750 individual identity theft leads. These leads involved approximately 1.72 million returns with over $11.4 billion in refunds claimed. 
CI continues to be the lead agency that investigates identity theft and is actively involved in more than 70 multi-regional task forces or working groups including state/local and federal law enforcement agencies solely focusing on identity theft. CI continues to have one of the highest conviction rates in all of federal law enforcement — at 93.2 percent — and is the only federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over federal tax crimes. CI is routinely called upon to be the lead financial investigative agency on a wide variety of financial crimes including international tax evasion, identity theft and transnational organized crime.

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