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  • FOX 23 Tulsa KOKI

    FOX23 Investigates: What other crimes does the IRS investigate?

    30 days ago

    TULSA, Okla. — Unless you filed an extension, if you didn't do you taxes by Monday, you're officially late.

    When most people think about the IRS, they think only about taxes, but as FOX23 found out, they look into much more than that.

    Mid-April is tax crunch time, and if you aren't paid up, you might be worried about these three letters, IRS.

    "So I think most people think of audit and collection, because that's most of their interaction with IRS," said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Altemus with the IRS Criminal Investigations

    Altemus said they catch criminals in other kinds of crime, too.

    The number one crime, narcotics.

    "So like most crimes, there's a financial component right there, they're committing these crimes for some money, possibly financial gain," Altemus explained. "And that's where our expertise comes in. Because we are truly the best at tracing proceeds through multiple accounts, identifying assets that may be concealed with those proceeds, and ultimately, bringing those individuals to justice with those money laundering charges."

    Altemus said these criminals are in this game to make money so the IRS can take away those proceeds and those assets, that's going to have the biggest impact and disrupting these organizations.

    The IRS also fights human trafficking.

    "For us to to identify where that money is going, ultimately, it's not always at the initial site of an organization that's conducting that type of activity," he explained. "So being able to trace that money back, whether it be domestically, now we're seeing a lot more international organized crime, and should be able to trace that funding to those international sources and being able to, again, shut down the operations at a much more higher level."

    They follow the money. And they also follow the money when combatting another crime, investment fraud.

    "You have individuals that try to scam folks into all types of different investments," Altemus said. "We had one, recently, involving cryptocurrency. That's very popular right now, everybody wants to make make money and get

    rich quick off of Bitcoin Aetherium. And so we did have an investigation recently where it was completely fictitious investment and coin."

    We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars that's being stolen from from taxpayers.

    U.S. Attorney for the Northern District Clint Johnson said the IRS helps his office put people away.

    "So IRS won't be handling the drug portion of a narcotics case. But you know, what they can handle is the money laundering, the wire fraud, the bank fraud and helping us trace those proceeds to maybe individuals in the organization that are the shot callers, people higher up in the organization. So it's a great

    investigative tool," he said.

    Johnson said there have been several cases he's felt like the IRS was a big help.

    "Some of the cases that you've covered as well and we had 'Operation Heavy Metal' which was a catalytic converter case the IRS worked on, 'Booster Busters' which was a huge retail theft and we have Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force narcotics cases that we've looked at," Johnson explained.

    "We've used the IRS, their their abilities for financial crimes. It's just a force multiplier for law enforcement. We want to have as many people in the game rowing in the same direction with different levels of expertise," Johnson added. "It makes it more effective to fight crime, to do it together."

    Altemus said narcotics, human trafficking and investment fraud are the three biggest crimes the IRS is trying to fight besides the obvious that will always be number one for them, tax crimes.

    "It's always going to be tax, we are the only agency that has the authority to charge criminal tax violations," Altemus said.

    Speaking of tax crimes, just a couple weeks ago, a former Claremore company president was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $6.6 million in restitution.

    Phillip Albert was president of Pelco Structural LLC., a steel pole manufacturing company. After a six-year investigation, the IRS found Albert told the payroll company to falsely categorize some of his income as "reimbursements." The IRS said that allowed him to evade paying more than a million dollars in federal income taxes.

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