IRS Fraud Charges: Former Employee Used IRS Files To Commit Identity Theft

A former IRS worker, Viririana Hernandez, 30, has been arrested in a fraud scheme and faces multiple charges for stealing personal information from the files of her fellow IRS employees.

According to the Central Valley Business Times, three others – Robert Martinez, 33, Lillian Gonzales, 32, and Daniel Miranda, 25 - are also facing charges in the IRS fraud case.

Hernandez, who began working for the IRS in 2006, had access to IRS files containing other employee's personal information. She and her co-conspirators allegedly used various methods to obtain that information and use it to commit fraud.

The Fresno Business Journal reported that the four were arrested on Tuesday after an investigation into the IRS fraud by the U.S. Postal Inspection Services and the Treasury Inspector General, and the Fresno Police Department.

A Fresno federal grand jury returned a 23-count indictment on July 18. In addition to the credit card fraud charges, all four of the defendants also face charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, and wire fraud charges.

The indictment charges that, while employed by the IRS, Hernandez and her three accomplices used the illegally obtained personal information of approximately 160 IRS employees to open credit card accounts or add themselves as authorized users to existing accounts. They then used the credit cards to make purchases in the Fresno, Modesto, and Riverside County area of California.

Investigators found that the accounts had been opened between June 2012 and January 2014. Charges made to the accounts by the former IRS worker and the others involved in the fraud scheme are estimated to be about $1.2 million.

If convicted of the IRS fraud charges, the four face up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hernandez's arrest comes on the heels of another former IRS employee's sentencing for stealing personal information. On June 9, Accounting Today reported that Missy A. Sledge, 47, had been would be serving over four years in prison for her involvement in a tax fraud and identity theft scheme.

Sledge, who had been employed by the IRS for 12 years, was faced charges of providing social security numbers of taxpayers to a ring of criminals who were filing fraudulent tax returns using others' information. She would then make sure that the fraudulent returns sent to her for review passed and payment was released to her co-conspirators.

Sledge also used her position with the IRS to find legitimate tax returns with large refunds pending, and then provide information to the others involved so that they could change the addresses of those taxpayers. The refunds would then be re-routed to the tax fraud ring instead of the taxpayer's address.

These IRS employee arrests are only two of the scandals revealed involving employees and managers at the IRS in the past year. Do you think the IRS should be under closer scrutiny?