With tax filing season heating up, the Internal Revenue Service is mounting an aggressive crackdown against identity theft and tax refund fraud.
Officials said Thursday that a January sweep in 32 states and Puerto Rico identified 389 ID theft suspects, including 109 who were arrested. The number of IRS ID theft investigations tripled in 2012 and is focused on high-risk cities such as Miami, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles.
In 2012, the IRS says its investigations prevented $20 billion in would-be fraudulent refunds.
Authorities say Florida leads the nation in identity theft complaints at 178 for every 100,000 residents. The Miami area is even worse, at 324 complaints per 100,000 residents.
Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer says the fraud is spreading in Florida like a virus.