A massive case of organized tax and bank fraud culminated with the unsealing of four federal grand jury indictments accusing 55 people of participating in one or more illicit schemes, including the theft of more than 2,000 identities that were used to claim more than $20 million in bogus IRS tax refunds. As a result, the IRS paid out more than $7 million — even issuing payments in the names of dead people.
The charges are the result of a two-year long investigation by federal and local authorities in San Diego and Los Angeles. Twenty-two defendants were arrested this morning during sweeps in Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Maryland. Hundreds of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers participated in the takedown. Thirty-three defendants remain at large, including 21 who are believed to be out of the country. During searches at 12 locations, authorities seized $13,000 in cash and four handguns, including three that were unregistered.