An underground epidemic? A new CNN investigation into identity theft and tax fraud calls it a “scary proposition” due to just how easy it is for scammers to steal tax refunds from hard-working American citizens.
How easy is it?
According to a new report from Anderson Cooper:
Criminals across the country are raking in billions of dollars in tax refunds through a new and brazen form of fraud that takes advantage of the IRS’s fast online returns, law enforcement officials say.
Using laptops and free WiFi connections, criminals are stealing identities and using the names of legitimate taxpayers to file fraudulent online tax returns. They’ve raked in billions, buying luxury cars, expensive jewelry and plastic surgery, police said.
“It’s like the federal government is putting crack cocaine in candy machines,” said Detective Craig Catlin of the North Miami Beach, Florida, Police Department. “It’s that easy.”
As we’ve already reported this tax season, the IRS has named identity theft the no. 1 crime in its 2012 Dirty Dozen list.
The Anderson Cooper video says the IRS is “doing a balancing act” to protect tax refunds, but that still might not be enough to curb the rampant fraud.