IRS: Identity theft prosecutions double in 2013

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is seeing a big jump in thieves stealing Social Security numbers to fraudulently claim tax refunds, the agency said Tuesday.

The IRS launched 1,492 criminal investigations into identity theft last year, a 66 percent increase from the year before. Prosecutions and indictments more than doubled. The numbers dwarf those from just two years ago.

In all, the IRS said it has flagged 14.6 million suspicious tax returns since 2011, blocking more than $50 billion in fraudulent refunds.

New IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told reporters this week that stopping identity theft was a top priority for the agency.

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