One identity thief recently infiltrated the ranks of the IRS itself. Domeen Flowers, 48, formerly employed by the IRS, was arrested and indicted on Thursday for allegedly stealing taxpayers' identities from an IRS database and using them to fraudulently apply for credit cards, several news outlets report. (Hat tip: Forbes.)
Flowers stole the identities of at least a "handful" of people, according to WFTV 9. Federal investigators have not disclosed how many people's information was compromised.
The IRS hired Flowers as a mail room clerk in 2007 in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Flowers allegedly stole taxpayers' identities both in Philadelphia and when she moved to Maitland, Fla., according to WFTV 9.
Flowers allegedly stole the identity of her Philadelphia landlord in 2009 and used it to apply for credit cards, according to NBC Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Inquirer. The indictment claims Flowers mailed a letter to her landlord using IRS letterhead demanding more information by fax, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Flowers describes her job at the IRS as a "Great Job" on her Facebook page. She writes that she is married, a mother, a grandmother and a cancer survivor.
If convicted, Flowers faces up to 46 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.25 million, according to NBC Philadelphia.
The IRS itself is trying to crack down on identity thieves filing fraudulent tax returns. Officials arrested 105 people accused of tax-related identity theft in January, according to the Associated Press.
The agency received more than 2.2 million fraudulent tax returns last year, costing the government $2 billion. The IRS may mistakenly issue as much as $26 billion in tax refunds to identity thieves over the next five years, according to J. Russell George, the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the number of fraudulent tax returns the IRS received last year. The correct figure is 2.2 million.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more