IRS faces challenges when tracking online financial crime

LAS VEGAS - A thick web of money laundering or fraud was broken up by the FBI, but not before it scammed some of the public.

The complicated world of paper, computers, and money is the domain of the Internal Revenue Service.
 
"The nature of financial crimes are changing," said Don Fort, Internal Revenue Service.

Anyone who has been a victim of tax or financial fraud, there's a good chance Fort has overseen the people tracking the crooks.

"The fast, evolving nature of cyber crimes," Fort said.

Fort is the new head of criminal investigations for the Internal Revenue Service, in Las Vegas for a conference.

Fort overseas individuals, along with crime syndicates in foreign countries that are able to hack into IRS computer systems, stealing data to file tax returns.

Intricate webs of online thieves are nothing new, but Fort says it's getting even harder to follow the money when it's in code.

A lot of the complicated fraud cases come right through the Las Vegas Strip, which is a city that presents its own unique challenges to investigators.

"With the amount of cash that's coming into the casinos in Las Vegas, it's an area of concern for us," Fort said.

Fort said the fact that his agency is understaffed doesn't help with the complicated financial and tax crimes.  So, Fort is leading new programs focused more on data analytics to help sift through acres of information the IRS receives.

But here's a sobering fact: Although the IRS' investigations can be vital, a lot of them are never prosecuted.

"There is intense competition for limited department of justice resources," Fort said.

This could be challenging because cities like Las Vegas are ripe for crime.

"How do you cut through all that information and data," Fort said. "You have limited agent resources, they're only going to bring a certain number of cases; how do you pick the best cases that give you the bang for the buck."

The IRS is also stepping up its international tax enforcement work.  However, he wouldn't elaborate on which countries are the source for the most financial crime.


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