Question: “Why do you rob banks, Mr. Sutton?”
Answer: “Because that’s where the money is.”
It’s debatable whether or not legendary bank robber Willie Sutton ever said that. However, the idea of only robbing something that has money is a good one (for the robber). Today, the question might be asked, “Why do you commit identity theft?”
Another gang of identity thieves was caught yesterday. From Long Beach, California comes word that eleven gang members were arrested. The investigation began as the result of a shooting. Investigators discovered that gang members had switched from violent crime to nonviolent identity theft and filing false tax returns. The reason is obvious to me: It’s an easy way of making an illegal income.
A large list of agencies was involved in yesterday’s arrests, including the Secret Service and the US Postal Inspectors. Noticeably absent from that list was the IRS Criminal Investigation unit. Clearly, tax fraud was committed but it took outside agencies (that is, outside of the IRS) to discover and prosecute the crimes.
True, those arrested may face federal charges (they were booked on state charges only yesterday), and those eleven alleged identity thieves are unlikely to be committing any more identity thefts anytime soon. However, until the IRS implements better procedures (such as the suggestions I made earlier this year), more and more criminals will attempt to commit this crime. That’s because there’s lots of money to be made here.