(Bloomberg) — Identity thieves, using the IRS website to gain access to information on 104,000 U.S. taxpayers, filed fake tax returns and collected as much as $50 million in refunds, Commissioner John Koskinen said.
The thieves had enough personal information on the taxpayers to get past the security filters on the “Get Transcript” function on the Internal Revenue Service’s website, Koskinen said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. That allowed them to gain access to past tax returns.
“We’re confident that these are not amateurs, that these actually are organized crime syndicates,” Koskinen said.
The activity occurred from mid-February through May, and the IRS removed the Get Transcript function from its website last week and started a criminal investigation.
“We won’t put it back up until we’re satisfied that we’ve improved the security,” Koskinen said.