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March 23rd, 2012
03:51 PM ET

Refund Robbery

Law enforcement says it's one of the biggest, most brazen crimes in the U.S. – criminals stealing your tax refund by stealing your identity, going online, and getting the refund money. Police even call it the new "crack cocaine of crime," and in some Florida neighborhoods, it's actually replaced street level drug dealing. Police officials and the Tampa mayor blame the IRS because it allows the refunds to be put on debit cards, and sends out the return before completely checking the information.

For the first time, our investigation shows the fraud as it's happening on the streets of North Miami Beach and Tampa, Florida, we interview two police detectives who are themselves victims, and talk to a police informant who teaches people how to do tax refund fraud. In an exclusive interview, the IRS deputy commissioner says it's a "balancing act" to get the returns out fast to legitimate taxpayers and keep fraudulent ones from going to criminals. The IRS has identified $6.5 billion in ID-related tax refund fraud last year, but does not know how much was going undetected.

"Refund Robbery" is one of four riveting stories you won't want to miss this Sunday on CNN Presents at 8:00 pm ET, replaying at 11:00 pm ET and 2:00 am ET


Filed under: Randi Kaye • refund robbery