Stolen identity refund fraud is spreading like a virus in South Florida, according to U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer.
"Some folks call this the new, sort of crack cocaine, but on a card," said Ferrer. "I think the reason is because it's lucrative, it's less violent, and it's easy to do."
Ferrer said he's prosecuted nearly 100 cases of stolen identity refund fraud that totaled more than $50 million since August 2012.
He said the mastermind of one case was having filing parties.
"They invite folks to come to their homes with their laptops so they can teach them how to file these false returns in return for a cut of whatever they get from IRS," said Ferrer. "This is become the fast growing and most insidious crime targeted against our tax dollars."
The Internal Revenue Service expects to lose $21 billion from stolen identity refund fraud over the next five years. More than 3,000 agents are assigned to work identity theft cases this year.