|Updated: 2/01 5:24 pm
||Published: 2/01 4:18 pm
The IRS is getting swindled and Americans are losing money in the process.
An internal investigation finds the government mistakenly paid out 35 million dollars in fraudulent tax returns to prisoners, in just one year.
Scott McFarlane, of FOX23’s DC Bureau, found Oklahoma grifters have made off with big bucks in particular.
Federal investigators say Danilo Suarez continued stealing while behind bars. Prosecutors say while serving time in prison on drug charges Suarez filed at least 14 bogus tax returns with the IRS and got nearly $5,000 each time.
Federal officials say Suarez used relative’s names or the names of other inmates to prepare the “fictitious returns.”
The DC Bureau’s review of a pile of federal reports finds this isn't an isolated incident. In fact there's been a surge in this crime. 91-thousand prisoners tried this scheme over the past year.
They found Oklahoma prisoners made off with 100-thousand dollars in bogus refunds in just one recent year.
The IRS, famed for its audits and feared by many Americans, acknowledges it's failing to catch prisoners in the act.
35 million dollars was shipped out undetected over a recent year.
"Multiply that over the course of time and you've got a huge amount of money going illegally to prisoners. The IRS spending a lot of time trying to stop it and not being able to in any significant way," says Tom Fitton, an investigator with Judicial Watch.
Internal investigators say the agency's database of US prisoners is either incomplete, or simply inaccurate.
The IRS says it is working to fix that problem.