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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

IRS’s Top Ten Identity Theft Prosecutions 

Posted by William Byrnes on March 10, 2015


International Financial Law Prof Blog.

Continuing its enforcement push against refund fraud and identity theft, the Internal Revenue Service announced this week (IR 2015-9dc30-6a00d8341bfae553ef01bb07b43355970d-pi37) the Top Ten Identity Theft Prosecutions for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14).  The ongoing efforts to bring identity thieves to justice remains a significant priority as part of the IRS’s comprehensive identity theft strategy focusing on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible.

Statistical Information

In fiscal year 2014, the IRS initiated 1,063 identity theft related investigations. Criminal Investigation enforcement efforts resulted in 748 sentencings as compared to 438 in FY 2013, an increase of 75 percent. The incarceration rate rose 7.1 percent to 87.7 percent. The courts also imposed more jail time in 2014, with the average months of those being sentenced rising to 43 months as compared to 38 months in FY 2013. The longest sentence was 27 years.

Enforcement Efforts

During FY 2014, Criminal Investigation dedicated 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 755 state/local law enforcement agencies from 47 states participating. Since the start of the program, more than 6,776 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 CI Field Offices for investigation. Since its inception in FY 2012, it has received over 7,600 individual identity theft leads. These leads involved approximately 1.47 million returns with over $6.8 billion in refunds claimed.

CI continues to be the lead agency that investigates identity theft and is actively involved in more than 78 multi-regional task forces or working groups including state, local and federal law enforcement agencies solely focusing on identity theft.  CI has one of the highest conviction rates in all of federal law enforcement — at 93.4% — 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.

“Identity theft is a crime that carries significant consequences, and these cases send a warning to criminals,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Our top 10 cases represent the seriousness of these crimes and the magnitude of the consequences that will be faced by those who victimize honest taxpayers and steal from hard-working Americans.”

Top Ten Identity Theft Cases

read about the top 10 at International Financial Law Prof Blog.

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