Department Of Justice Returns $356,695 In Proceeds Of Tax Refund Fraud To Internal Revenue Service
Tampa, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section has authorized the return of $356,695.85 in proceeds of federal tax refund fraud to the Internal Revenue Service. Earlier this year, the Tampa Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office completed a civil forfeiture action against the funds, which were seized from nearly 1,600 Turbo Tax prepaid debit cards containing the proceeds of fraudulently filed federal income tax returns.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is using every available tool to tackle the problem of tax refund fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Robert O’Neill. “As our nation faces growing demands and limited resources, we will continue to address this issue and work hard to bring real dollars back into the Treasury.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation is working with our law enforcement partners to return taxpayer funds to the US Treasury, that have been stolen by individuals perpetrating ID Theft and filing False Tax returns, " stated James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Tampa Field Office. "This is one of many seizures that we have done in the Tampa area in a concerted effort to protect taxpayer dollars."
According to the affidavit supporting the civil forfeiture complaint, the Criminal Investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service, working in conjunction with Green Dot Corporation, the processor of the Turbo Tax prepaid debit cards, identified 11,181 Turbo Tax debit cards as having received income tax refunds from fraudulent returns. An analysis of the debit cards revealed that many had received multiple direct deposits of federal income tax refunds from the United States Treasury, in the names and Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. The investigation also showed that multiple cards were being mailed to addresses in specific parts of Tampa where individuals known to be committing this type of fraud resided.
In an effort to recoup the funds from the Turbo Tax cards, the United States initiated a civil forfeiture action against the funds remaining on cards linked to the Tampa area, and sought to forfeit those funds on the basis that they represented the proceeds of identity theft, mail fraud, wire fraud, and access device fraud. On November 15, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida entered a Judgment of Forfeiture for the funds, vesting title in the United States. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida then sought approval from the Department of Justice to return the stolen funds to the Internal Revenue Service.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josephine W. Thomas.
This case was brought as part of a joint initiative among federal, state, and local agencies dedicated to combating the growing problem of identity theft and the fraudulent filing of electronic tax returns. This initiative is coordinated and implemented with the cooperation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Tampa Police Department.