Why Is CI Involved in Identity Theft?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 @ 9:12PM

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IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) detects and investigates tax fraud and other financial fraud, including fraud related to identity theft. Identity theft is most likely to occur in our Questionable Refund Program (QRP) area where individual identities are stolen with the intent to file false returns claiming tax refunds. Additional areas involving identity theft include employment tax cases, abusive return preparer schemes, and narcotics and money laundering investigations.

CI has four Scheme Development Centers (SDCs) across the country whose primary mission is detecting refund fraud. These SDCs have uncovered numerous identity theft related schemes. These schemes are forwarded to one of CI’s 26 field offices for criminal investigation and/or to our civil counterparts to resolve victim accounts. After CI completes the initial evidence gathering of our investigations, we recommend prosecution of refund fraud, to include identity theft, when appropriate, to United States Attorney’s Offices nationwide. Specifically, we recommend Title 18 U.S.C. §1028, which is commonly referred to as the Identity Fraud Statute, when the evidence supports it. Per IRS policy (Internal Revenue Manual section, the identity fraud statute is not intended to be a stand-alone violation, but rather used as a companion charge when it enhances the overall substantive tax, money laundering, and/or conspiracy charges. As a result, CI generally pairs Title 18 U.S.C. §1028 with other substantive tax or tax-related charges.

In addition to detecting and investigating identity theft-related refund fraud, Criminal Investigation participates in the Department of Justice’s Identity Theft Interagency Working Group. Our field offices also participate with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on joint investigative efforts involving identity theft.

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