The recent revelation that a massive crime syndicate defrauded the IRS of significant funds by using stolen information to file fraudulent tax returns is surprising for a number of reasons. According to Ian Leaf, tax officials at the IRS were deceived by professional criminals who operated via a significant network that gathered the information of American citizens with the explicit purpose of defrauding the government for financial gain. As has been noted on several occasions by Ian Leaf, tax fraud is often a professional enterprise and it is certainly one that can be quite profitable for those involved.
While it has been determined who is likely responsible for the scam, the government is either unsure or simply has not elected to reveal how these fraudsters were able to con the government out of so much money through fake tax returns. According to Ian Leaf, scam and fraud on this scale is an exceptionally risky enterprise, and sophisticated techniques would have had to have been used to avoid any sort of detection. While this is nothing more than speculation, there are a few tactics that the criminal syndicate could have used, and perhaps they are not nearly as sophisticated as one would assume.
From the information that has been made public, Ian Leaf Vivier believes that these tax returns could have been filed fraudulently using personal data purchased on the black market or the online “Dark Web.” Since access to personal data can be purchased with relative ease through these channels, it seems possible that a crime syndicate could have bought personal data with the intention of using it to file the false tax returns that yielded what would have to be a significant profit.
Of course, the personal data bought from the black market would have to be combined with other personal information to falsify a tax return, but through hacking and social engineering it seems as though it would be simple enough to accomplish. The other possibility is that the crime syndicate was able to escape notice with the help of an insider, and it would make some sense that an insider would be involved considering the size and scope of the operation that was pulled off. However this fraud was perpetrated, it seems clear that the government and the IRS will respond by adopting stronger security strategies that prevent such fraudulent activity from succeeding in the future.