Four men have been arrested for allegedly taking part in an identity theft scheme that covered the entire country and gave them the opportunity to obtain millions of dollars through fraudulent tax returns from the Department of Revenue in Oregon and the Internet Revenue Service.
A warrant was issued for a fifth suspect in the fraud according to the Justice Department statement that was released on Thursday.
The men are alleged to have used personal ID information of over 125,000 people whose personal data they had obtained through a data breach at a background check and pre-employment company in the state of Oregon.
The scheme is alleged to have started back in 2012 and since that time, the five defendants had reportedly filed over 980 federal tax returns that were false that sought over $6.6 million in returns. The Internal Revenue Service rejected more than $4.6 million of those claims, reported authorities.
The indictment says that when tax applications were rejected by the IRS, the group created another tax return after they changed some information from the initial one that had been rejected by IRS workers.
They were given their money for their tax returns on prepaid debut cards as well as bank accounts of third parties.
All five of the defendants have been charged with a count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, seven mail fraud counts, six wire fraud counts and 13 aggravated identity theft charges.
The conspiracy and fraud charges could land the men in prison for as long as 30 years and they could be fined up to as much as $1 million.
If they are convicted of charges of identity theft, each defendant would be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of two years behind bars for each of the counts where there is a conviction.
Tax fraud has been on the increase over the last five years thanks to a number of data breaches where personal data was stolen and then sold on the black market on the web.