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Investigation nets 42 arrests related to fraud, identity theft

Identity theft continues to be a pressing concern for many Florida residents, and federal and state authorities have increased efforts to address the problem. A recent investigation led to the arrest of 42 individuals whom police believe tried to claim tax returns that belonged to others. The identity theft and fraud arrests come just days before the deadline to file 2014 tax returns.

Police claim that most of the people charged in this case reside in Broward or Miami-Dade counties, although the fraudulent tax returns included state returns from several other areas. It is believed that many of the individuals charged were able to purchase private identification information from workers at hospitals, schools, government offices and restaurants. Those details were used to steal identities and file the false tax returns.

The people arrested as a result of this most recent investigation were charged with identity theft and related forms of fraud. However, it is unclear whether all of those arrested were participating in a linked identity theft scheme or were acting on their own. It is also unclear if the workers whom police believe sold private information were also charged.

Any time that a large-scale investigation leads to multiple arrests, there is a risk that innocent people were caught up in the crime sweep. It is possible that some of those arrested were not actively involved in identity theft or fraud but were associated with individuals who are guilty of those acts. Each and every individual accused of these crimes has the right to mount his or her own criminal defense and should make every effort to secure the legal expertise needed to combat these serious Florida criminal charges.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "42 charged in S. Fla.'s ID theft 'epidemic,' officials say", Paula McMahon, April 10, 2015

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