40 Defendants, 20 Cases: Florida Identity Theft Widespread

40 Defendants, 20 Cases: Florida Identity Theft Widespread

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40 Defendants, 20 Cases: Florida Identity Theft Widespread

 

On October 10, 2012, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida announced that 40 defendants were charged in 20 different cases for identity theft that resulted in millions of dollars of fraudulent tax filings.  
 
The Federal Trade Commission declares that Florida had the highest identity theft rate in 2011.  The FTC reports that Miami is where most of the identity thefts occur in Florida.  For every 100,000 residents in the United States, about 178 complaints are filed for identity theft.  Miami makes this figure look small.  For every 100,000 residents in Miami, there are about 324.1 complaints.  
 
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) also announces that Florida has the highest rate of tax refund fraud in the United States.  TIGTA estimates that about 74,496 fraudulent returns were filed in Miami alone and caused about $280 million in fake refunds.  The per capita of false returns in Miami is 46 times higher than the national average, and the epidemic is growing.  According to TIGTA, the IRS is projected to issue about $21 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in the next five years.  
 
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida recently created the Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force to combat the epidemic.  The Strike Force is made up of multiple agencies and police departments around the Miami area.  
 
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “So far this year, we have charged a total of 79 individuals responsible for almost $40 million in fraudulent tax refunds obtained through identity theft.  The cases being investigated and prosecuted include victims from all walks of life, including police officers, potential U.S. Marine recruits, members of the Armed Forces, holocaust survivors, school children, hospital patients, the elderly and infirm, incarcerated prisoners, and even the dead.”  
 
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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