Just in time for tax season, the Internal Revenue Service has fired some warning shots, as it were, to let any potential identity thieves out there no it will not tolerate refund fraud. The agency announced today that it conducted a “massive national sweep” and scooped up 389 identity theft suspects across 32 states last month.
That sweep resulted in 734 enforcement actions, including 109 arrests and 189 indictments, reports CNNMoney. Serious business, people.
In addition to those suspects, the IRS is also focusing on check cashers to make sure they’re not aiding and abetting people in their schemes to steal identities or commit refund fraud. All of this nabbing and grabbing is to prove one big point — you can’t get away with this nonsense.
“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 IRS acting commissioner Steve Miller (and no, he doesn’t have a band named after him, that we know of). “This is part of a much wider effort underway for the 2013 tax season to stop fraud.”
It’s a big challenge for the IRS every year — just last year there were $20 billion in attempted fraudulent returns, which the IRS prevented from being sent out. That’s a big boost from $14 billion the previous year.
The ease of electronic filing, a growing number of people opting for debit cards to get refunds and a bunch of other factors all contribute to the IRS’ annual fraud headache.