JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The IRS is getting swindled and we're all losing money in the process.
An internal investigation found the government mistakenly paid out $35 million in fraudulent tax returns to prisoners in just one year. Action News Scott MacFarlane found out Florida grifters made off with the biggest bucks.
It takes an enterprising crook to continue stealing from behind bars.
The feds say that's exactly what Danilo Suarez did. Already in prison on drug charges, prosecutors say Suarez filed at least 14 bogus tax returns with the IRS. He scored nearly $5,000 each time. Investigators say Suarez used the names of relatives and other inmates to prepare "fictitious" returns.
[PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM TAX FRAUD & ABUSE
Saurez isn't alone. There's been a surge in this kind of crime. 91,000 prisoners tried this scheme over the past year with Florida prisoners making of with $12 million in bogus refunds in the past year.
The IRS, famed for its audits and feared by many Americans, admitted it's failing to catch prisoners in the act.
Internal investigators say the agency's database of U.S. prisoners is either incomplete or inaccurate.
The IRS says it's working to fix the problem, one that poses a serious threat to the U.S. tax system.