IRS Criminal Investigation Warns the Public to be Vigilant About Identity Theft
ALBUQUERQUE – IRS Criminal Investigation is warning taxpayers of an increase in false tax returns being filed with the IRS using stolen Social Security numbers. Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers. Both nationwide and in New Mexico, IRS Criminal Investigation has designated identity theft as a priority area and increased numbers of tax fraud investigations relating to identity theft have been initiated in recent years.
There are 26 IRS Criminal Investigation field offices across the country that investigate tax fraud and refund fraud, including identity theft. Investigation analysts in IRS Scheme Development Centers often discover identity theft related schemes where refunds appear to be going to identity theft perpetrators. In these instances, action can be taken to stop additional false refunds and protect victim accounts. IRS Criminal Investigation recommends prosecution of refund fraud cases, including cases involving identity theft to the Department of Justice.
“IRS Criminal Investigation is serious about investigating identity theft,” said Gabriel Grchan, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation. “Filing fraudulent tax returns is the same thing as stealing from the U.S. Treasury. It also harms those individuals whose identities were stolen.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation has partnered with other local and Federal law enforcement agencies to identify the perpetrators of these identity theft schemes. We have obtained the full support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to pursue prosecution of these individuals which has often resulted in significant prison sentences.”
The following is an example of a recent identity theft case in New Mexico: Douglas Kuester of Silver City, N.M., was sentenced in Nov. 2012 to 48 months in prison for filing false claims and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Kuester used stolen identities to file false tax returns which fraudulently claimed refunds.
“The IRS has taken numerous steps to combat identity theft and protect taxpayers. I encourage you to go to www.IRS.gov and read the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, call 1-800-908-4490 or visit your local IRS office for information about identity theft and what to do if you become a victim,” said Grchan.