MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More than 100 people were charged after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida set up a task force to tackle identity theft.
The collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement, which made up the South Florida Identity Theft Refund Fraud Strike Force, uncovered more than 30,000 stolen identities and the intended theft of over $60 million dollars.
In addition to fraudulent tax refund cases, the Strike Force also focused on the theft of personal identifying information.
Investigators said these cases included the use of the stolen information to access proprietary government databases. It was also used by the identity thieves to get into a number of retail credit card accounts and bank accounts along with accessing the individual’s Social Security and unemployment benefits.
“Identity theft in South Florida is rampant and it leaves a devastating wake,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. “In these cases, you see that people’s lives are disrupted as their savings are depleted, their credit is ruined and government benefits are being stolen. That is why prosecuting and stopping identity theft is one of the top priorities of the U.S. Attorney’s Office as it is for our state, federal and local law enforcement partners.”
Of the 104 people who are charged, approximately 60 are in custody.
If convicted, they are looking at anywhere between two and ten years in prison for identity theft.
“I urge everyone to take steps to protect their personally identifiable information (PII) from criminals who seek illicit profits through stolen identity fraud,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami. “The FBI and our partners continue to actively target these fraudsters who victimize hard-working taxpayers.”