Much safer than dealing drugs, experts say identity theft - especially tax identity theft - has become increasingly popular in Orlando and abroad. Though it often goes untracked, those accused of identity theft in Florida face lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.
The Federal Trade Commission reports Florida is at the epicenter of the remote crime in the United States, likely due to its large senior citizen population. Since 2008, the IRS reports about 500,000 taxpayers have alleged wage or identity tax fraud. The cases reported continue to climb, tripling between 2009 and last year.
Increase in Identity Theft Investigations
With mounting pressure to obtain criminal convictions, the FTC, IRS and FBI are upping identity theft investigations. However, there have been numerous complaints with how slow the IRS deals with identity theft allegations. But, even with this perceived slow claims process, the IRS said it stopped more than $1 billion in false returns in 2011.
Law enforcement in Florida has also noticed an increase in tax identity theft, with one North Miami task force officer telling a reporter for The News-Press, "We were seeing Walmart MoneyCards. That was the new crack cocaine. (Criminals) don't have to sling drugs on the corner, dodging bullets, to make $1,000 when (they can) do one tax return and get $9,000."
Identity theft is a serious charge in Florida, and those accused need to be vigilant in protecting their rights. Hopefully as federal agencies ramp up their efforts to combat identity theft and appease disgruntled consumers the personal rights of the accused do not fall by the wayside.
Source: Forbes, "Identity Tax Scams Blossom in Florida Sun," John Wasik, April 10, 2012