According to CNN, inside sources close to the IRS are saying the tax agency suspects that phony refund claims filed earlier this year using stolen tax-payer I.D.’s originated in Russia. Last year, State Department and White House computer systems were hacked by Russians believed to be working for the Kremlin.
Both the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Unit, and the Treasury Inspector General are investigating the latest breach of government security, which has been dubbed as the IRS’ biggest problem by an independent report issued last October.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT), is using the scandal to admonish the IRS for its incompetence and will call the agency’s commissioner in front of his committee to answer for the nearly $50 million lost to the fraudsters. In 2013, the IRS paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulent claims.
“When the federal government fails to protect private and confidential taxpayer information, Congress must act.”
– Orin Hatch (Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee)
In all, 100,000 prior-year tax returns were successfully opened by the hackers on the IRS website, out of 200,000 attempts.
The IRS plans to inform all 200,000 individuals that their personal information has been compromised and will offer free credit-monitoring to those whose tax returns were actually accessed by the identity-thieves.