HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — While financial relief was sent to help millions of Americans land on their feet during the pandemic, scammers have used this opportunity to take advantage.
Our WZDX News reporter has the details on how IRS Special Agents are cracking down on these crimes.
The IRS Criminal Investigation Division say more than 350 cases and $440 million in tax and money laundering cases have been investigated in the last year. Agents say they will continue their investigation.
"This is a tough situation and it's painful to see, and so we're going to continue to fight and dedicate our resources," says IRS Special Agent in Charge - Atlanta Field Office, James Dorsey.
The "Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act" signed last year included helping small businesses. Scammers have taken advantage through Economic Impact Payments, the Paycheck Protection Program also known as "PPP" and the Employee Retention Credit.
"As far as businesses, individuals are actually perpetrating fraud by setting up those businesses and requesting these funds employees that they don't have or getting loans for businesses that they have not previously had," says Dorsey.
Investigators say it's not that easy to catch fraudulent activity, such as identity theft, ahead of time. "With these types of CARES Act funds that are set up, the big word right now is the stimulus check that people are receiving," says Dorsey.
Stimulus checks are based off of tax filings from the previous year. "If someone intercepted your identity, or had access to your tax information, and may have received it that way," says Dorsey.
However, investigators urge you to report any fraudulent activity you may see.
"The way that the public can really help us out here, is if you know of a scam that's going on or someone is trying to recruit you to me a part of the scam, go to IRS.gov and we have action links that you can hit that you can report this type of fraudulent schemes or scams that are going on," says Dorsey.