IRS deputizes local law enforcement - WFLA News Channel 8

IRS deputizes local law enforcement

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The IRS deputized 30 investigators from local and state agencies on Friday in a stepped-up effort to fight identity theft and tax refund fraud in the Bay area.

The investigators are deputies, officers and agents who are already investigating the fraud that's been a big problem in the region for the past few years.  The new role as "special IRS criminal investigators" gives them access to information and the ability to do things like execute federal search warrants.

"These folks now are going to have expanded authority that will allow them to police not just their local jurisdiction but any jurisdiction within the U.S.," said Jim Robnett, IRS criminal investigations special agent in charge for the Tampa field office.

The efforts are part of the Identity Theft Alliance the IRS launched last year to work with local agencies in the fight against the crime that's cost the government billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds.  In the tax refund crime, fraudsters file fake tax returns using stolen identities, tricking the government into sending out refunds often worth thousands of dollars each.

Previously, investigators with local agencies had expressed frustration they couldn't get information needed to investigate cases because of federal privacy issues.  Now they hope their new positions will help them get access to information connected with fraudulent returns to speed up their cases.

"I think the most important thing for the sheriff's office … is that we're able to get tax returns a lot quicker than we did prior to today," said Corp. Bruce Crumpler, who heads up tax fraud investigations at the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.

Those sworn in Friday are from the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, Clearwater Police Department, Largo Police Department, St. Petersburg Police Department, Brooksville Police Department, Hernando County Sheriff's Office, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Manatee County Sheriff's Office and FDLE.

 

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