Geographic Targeting Order Issued by FinCEN Aims at Combatting Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud in South Florida
MIAMI- Federal Authorities announced today that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued a Geographic Targeting Order (GTO) for South Florida check cashers to temporarily enhance the identification requirements on customers cashing Federal tax refund checks. The GTO will require check cashers in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to obtain and record specific identification information from customers cashing federal income tax refund checks over $1,000. This information will include the customer’s identification, a digital photograph of the customer taken at the time of the transaction, the customer’s telephone number, and, in accordance with Florida law, the individual’s thumbprint.
FinCEN issued the GTO in close coordination with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida (SDFL), which established the South Florida Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force to combat the wave of stolen identity tax refund scams over the last several years. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation further provided valuable assistance to the federal authorities in issuing the GTO.
FinCEN, the IRS, and the SDFL are particularly concerned that identity thieves are attempting to perpetrate their schemes outside of the tax filing season in hopes that their illegal activity will catch financial institutions off guard and be more likely to slip through their anti-money laundering controls, which are aimed at preventing criminal funds from entering and moving through the financial system. The GTO will, therefore, cover a time period (August 3, 2015, through January 30, 2016) in which the proportion of fraudulent tax refund transactions is high, but the total volume of transactions is relatively low.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida stated, “Prosecuting stolen identity tax refund fraud remains a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We greatly appreciate the continued efforts of FinCEN and the IRS in this area and look forward to working with financial institutions in the private sector through this GTO in order to further combat these fraudulent schemes that impact our South Florida communities.”
A copy of the Order is available at the following website: http://www.fincen.gov/news_room/nr/pdf/20150710GTO.pdf.
Failure to comply could result in substantial criminal and civil penalties.
A copy of the FinCEN release may be found at the following website: http://www.fincen.gov/news_room/nr/pdf/20150713.pdf.