For thousands of taxpayers sorting out the mess left by identity thieves who filed for tax refunds in their names, chances are poor that the fraudsters will be punished or even pursued, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Prosecutions for identity theft-related tax fraud are rare. The Internal Revenue Service has pursued just 412 such cases nationwide since 2007.
Each investigation may represent multiple victims, but the total is still a small fraction of all the taxpayers affected by the crimes.Since January 2010, the IRS has identified and stopped more than 166,000 fraudulent refunds using stolen identities. Two congressmen from South Florida last week called on the IRS to place a higher priority on the issue after reports in the Sun Sentinel. One victim, Debbie Nichols, called the Social Security Administration “to let them know someone was using my Social Security number and the guy said, ‘Why are you calling us?’ ” she said. “This is fraud. This is a felony, and nobody cares,” Nichols said.