Call it a preemptive strike. The head of the IRS's criminal investigations wanted to get as many of these known criminals off the street as possible before tax season opened.
Five criminal indictments this week alone. They've been arrested on multiple counts of tax refund fraud. The latest in a state wide round up credited to an alliance made up of the IRS, FDLE and local law enforcement.
The arrests of Demetrius Lewis in Pasco county last fall and Carlos Johnson in Clearwater in October are two of dozens across the state the alliance took down. In Johnson's case the IRS says he filed 173 tax returns totaling 1.3 million dollars. In other busts the cops have confiscated 10's of thousands of dollars in cash, luxury cars and big screen TVs.
After their latest meeting today the alliance announced that another partner Crime Stoppers would play a major role in their effort to put the bad guys out of the tax fraud business.
A bill board campaign is in the works and those who live in identified tax fraud areas can expect to get fliers in the mail encouraging anyone with information to come forward. They may be in line for a reward of up to $1000.
In 2011 Tampa led the nation in tax return fraud with 89,000 bad returns amounting to 468 million dollars. Jim Robnett the head of IRS criminal investigations says the law enforcement alliance is 150% dedicated to making a large dent in this crime.