While much of America was focused on the recent federal government shutdown, a tax crime case was unfolding in South Florida.
Even as the shutdown dominated headlines, a strike force set up to fight identity theft and tax fraud in Florida was preparing federal charges. Those charges have now been filed in a massive 30 separate cases involving at least 45 individual defendants.
The strike force effort to identify those responsible for criminal tax fraud had many participants. Those included the Criminal Investigation branch of the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Miami Field Office, the Social Security Administration, many local police departments and the Homeland Security Investigations department of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
This formidable team, backed by local and federal resources, was able to track over 20,000 stolen identities. Of the 45 defendants responsible for identity theft in those four cases, 38 have been arrested so far.
It is alleged that the defendants in these cases profited in the amount of $411.5 million via fraudulent tax refunds. Investigators claim to have prevented an additional $40 million in losses to taxpayers.
Tax fraud of this nature often involves identity theft and has become rampant across the country. The I.R.S. says that it prevented $20 billion of such fraud in 2012. The crime is particularly prevalent in affluent communities of South Florida, with the number of false returns filed from Miami being about 46 times the countrywide average. The U.S. Attorney General has pledged to do everything possible to stop crimes of this nature in South Florida.
Tax crime cases affect financial institutions and individuals in states like Florida every year. Cases of tax crimes should be investigated in a comprehensive manner to clearly determine the facts.
Source: Forbes, "Massive Tax Fraud Takedown During Government Shutdown" Kelly Phillips, Oct. 21, 2013