IRS: Convictions Spike for Tax Fraudsters, Identity Thieves

Out of the thousands of people prosecuted for tax fraud and identity theft last year following Internal Revenue Service investigations, 93 percent were convicted, according to the agency's Criminal Investigation Annual Report for fiscal year 2013. 

That conviction rate is a 25 percent increase over 2012 cases.

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The Criminal Investigation unit said it saw a 12.5 percent increase in new investigations compared to 2012 and a nearly 18 percent increase in prosecution recommendations, according to an IRS news release.

For 2013, the IRS initiated 5,314 cases and recommended 4,364 cases for prosecution. Identity theft continues to represent a significant share of those cases, with 1,400 investigations and recommended prosecution of more than 1,250 people who were involved in identity theft crimes.

As an active partner in more than 35 identity theft task forces, the IRS unit said it works side-by-side with federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies. 

“The Alliance represents true teamwork by all levels of law enforcement,” Richard Weber, chief of Criminal Investigation, said in a news release. “Individuals who commit identity theft demonstrate a blatant disregard of the integrity of the United States tax system and cause immeasurable hardship to innocent victims.”

The IRS has come under fire for issuing $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in 2012 to people using stolen identities, with some of the money going to addresses in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Ireland, according to a CBS News analysis of the Treasury Department inspector general's report released late last year.

While a hefty sum, that amount was a $1 billion decrease from the amount the IRS unknowingly issued to criminals in 2011.

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