The IRS is cracking down on identity theft and tax crimes. The increased
enforcement efforts can lead to false allegations.
A group of college students from Miami Dade College were recently arrested
and charged with federal crimes for their alleged involvement in a complex
identity theft and tax fraud scheme. According to a report by the Miami
Herald, the students filed fraudulent income-tax refunds and received
over half a million dollars in returns. According to the allegations,
the students were using Higher One accounts to receive fraudulent refunds.
The students would get the refunds and transfer the funds into the accounts.
FBI, IRS and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents stated that similar
activities are being investigated in other universities and colleges throughout Florida.
The arrests were part of a larger, federal crackdown on identity theft and
tax fraud crimes. Southern Florida has arguably experienced the full force of this crackdown,
as the article notes the area is ranked as the top in the country for
identity theft and tax fraud crimes.
More on the federal crackdown
The Internal Revenue Services, or IRS, has pushed to increase identity
theft arrests as a means of reducing the number of tax fraud cases that
arise throughout the country. The number of arrests connected to this
crackdown generally increase near tax season in an effort to deter future
offenses. It is important to note that this increase is substantial. Recent
IRS data reported the number of criminal investigations of these issues
more than tripled in 2012.
Jail time sentencing associated with these crimes is also on the rise.
The IRS reports the average sentence for an identity theft conviction
in 2011 was 44 months. This number jumped to a 48 month average sentence
in 2012. But as in all cases, the penalty imposed varies from case to
case and depends on many factors, including the amount of the funds involved
as well as the prior criminal record of the individual charged.
The IRS also noted in a recent press release that the agency has targeted
money services businesses (MSBs), or businesses that transmit or convert
money like check cashing services, as well. The effort was designed to
ensure that these businesses were not assisting in
identity theft or fraud schemes by sending IRS auditors and criminal investigators to
conduct special compliance efforts.
Increased enforcement efforts can lead to allegations against innocent people
Unfortunately, the increased push by the IRS to find and prosecute individuals
who may be committing tax fraud or identity theft crimes can lead to allegations
that won't stand up in court. Those who find themselves accused of
these crimes must take the charges seriously. If convicted, penalties
can include hefty monetary fines and imprisonment. Defenses are available.
Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case. Ensure
your legal rights are protected.