JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On Thursday morning, State Attorney Angela Corey and representatives from various law enforcement agencies announced the results of a seven month investigation into tax return fraud and identity theft that resulted in 17 people's arrest.
Corey described what happened as one of the biggest cases of identity theft on the First Coast in a long time.
The operation netted bank tellers, a hospital employee and a credit card processor. They are accused of defrauding taxpayers of over $350,000.
Corey said investigators got tipped off by VyStar Credit Union when they noticed suspicious tax refund activity at one of their branches.
Five tellers were being paid $1,000 to help deposit tax refunds in accounts set up by the ring leader.
IRS Special Agent Jim Robnett says with the upcoming tax season around the corner, one of the best things people can do is file their returns early to close the door on anyone potentially trying to steal their refund or identity.
Robnett also said to keep a constant check of your bank account. He says it can help you learn if you are a victim of identity theft sooner rather than later.
Corey said many of the victims in this scheme are children or elderly people who had no idea someone was using their identity to file tax returns.
First Coast News