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Robert Trigaux

Tampa detective testifies on rampant tax fraud, identity theft in Capitol Hill hearing this morning



billnelsonap.jpgWake up and good morning. Tampa police criminal intelligence bureau detective Sal Augeri is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill this morning in a hearing of the Senate Finance subcommittee on the difficulties of investigating tax fraud and identity theft.

This is the second hearing since May 2011 by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., (AP photo, left) on the topic of identity theft and tax fraud. Since 2008, the IRS has identified 470,000 cases of identity theft affecting 390,000 taxpayers. "While the IRS claims it has stopped over $1 billion in fraudulent refund claims," Nelson stated, "there is no reliable estimate of how much it has disbursed to criminals, scam artists and fraudsters."

But look at the trend line:

In 2008, there were 51,702 incidents of tax-related identity fraud;

In 2009, that number rose to 169,087.

And in 2010, that number again skyrocketed to 248,357.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor told Bay News 9 that her detectives have a hard time investigating tax fraud because they turn over their findings to the IRS and hit a dead end. She met with IRS officials last week. The IRS by law says it cannot share information. WFLA-Ch. 8 has reported on this issue here. Fox TV-Ch. 13 has covered it here.

Castor says, conservatively, tax fraud involves hundreds of millions of dollars in the Tampa Bay area alone.

Detective Augeri will testify how thieves steal IDs. Nelson wants to see if more attention and tougher sanctions are making any headway.

A recent sting in Tampa set up by federal and local agencies lead to the arrest of 49 people charged with stealing identities to use to collect tax refunds.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times




[Last modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 8:02am]


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