Recently, U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer said that identity theft and tax fraud is "a real tsunami of fraud that is upon us," adding that gang members, drug dealers and violent criminals are the protagonists of this crime, which is one of the more widespread crimes in the United States. On Feb. 17 Yahoo! explained that federal authorities arrest hundreds of criminals every year in Florida who have been accused of stealing identity data from thousands of people in order to receive millions of dollars in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.
The identity thieves file false tax returns on behalf of thousands of people, and most of them are dead. Among U.S. cities with the highest incidences of this crime are Tampa and Miami, both in Florida.
The arrests are mainly credited to a new team of government agents that is composed of members from the IRS, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Secret Service, Postal Inspection Service and local police departments.
Recent research from the Treasury Department revealed that the IRS has paid over $200 million in tax refunds to scammers who filed false taxes with the stolen identities of others.
Yahoo! explained that the IRS is cracking down on these criminals and they are making tremendous progress when it comes to making tax fraud harder for thieves.
The IRS is seeking to speed up the loading of data from W-2 payroll forms issued at the beginning of the tax season, a time lapse which gives fraudsters a window of opportunity to file using false data.
The IRS is also looking for ways to authenticate the identity of tax filers at the time of filing to pre-empt fraud, as well as working with the Social Security Administration to limit access to a registry of social security data of deceased tax payers, the so-called "Death Master File", a frequent target of fraud.