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IRS cites heightened concern with financial crime, ID theft

How seriously focused is the criminal investigative arm of the Internal Revenue Service on tax fraud, especially identity theft, in Missouri and nationally?

Consider this. It is estimated that that well more than 30 percent of investigations conducted by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in the last fiscal year targeted ID theft.

The dimensions of that theft, and of Internet crimes in pursuance of it, are huge, say tax officials and enforcement agency representatives. Identity theft has been described as an “epidemic,” with ID theft scams topping the IRS “Dirty Dozen Tax Scam” list for two consecutive years.

That level of concern has brought a response, and it is anything but trivial. Reportedly, the IRS tripled ID theft-related investigations in 2012 over the preceding year, with criminal probes further increasing this year.

It seems clear that the CID has both the arsenal and the resolve to aggressively go after individuals and business enterprises that have allegedly committed financial fraud.

In fact, some of the CID-related statistics are truly eye-opening. The department reportedly employs about 2,600 “special agents” across the globe who focus exclusively on financial crimes, with an additional 1,000-plus employees assisting them. The Chicago Tribune and other media outlets report that investigations in the last fiscal year have resulted in 3,865 criminal convictions, with about 80 percent of convicted defendants receiving prison terms.

Given such statistics, and the stated concerns of IRS and other enforcement officials with financial crime, any person who is targeted in a fraud-related investigation would be well advised to promptly secure the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Somebody's watching me: IRS criminal investigations ramp up efforts to thwart tax ID thefts," Kelly Phillips Erb, Oct. 28, 2013

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