IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) detects and investigates tax fraud and other financial fraud, including fraud related to identity theft. Identity theft is often found through our Questionable Refund Program (QRP) area where we detect false returns which may have used stolen identities to claim fraudulent 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 126.96.36.199.11.1), 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.
2017 Annual Report
The Criminal Investigation (CI) division's annual report reflects significant accomplishments and criminal enforcement actions taken in fiscal year 2017.
Statistical Data - Identity Theft Schemes
Enforcement statistics on investigations initiated, prosecutions recommended, indictments, sentenced investigations, and months to serve in prison.
Examples of Identity Theft Schemes
Examples have been written from public record documents filed in the district courts where the case was prosecuted.
Be alert to possible identity theft issues.
Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP)
This program is designed to help law enforcement obtain tax return data vital to their local efforts in investigating and prosecuting specific cases of identity theft.