Identity Theft: Illegal Aliens’ Stock and Trade



As Congress delved into Facebook’s “scraping” of users’ personal information last week, illegal aliens are using stolen identities to loot Americans and the government.

Not a week goes by without some major identity-theft case hitting the news. Commentator Victor Davis Hanson, who had his identity stolen, calls such thievery “the great unspoken twin of illegal immigration.”

Indeed, identity theft is one of the chief crimes committed by illegal aliens as they raid the U.S. Treasury and rip off taxpayers.

The Washington Times reported that 87 percent of online tax filings with an ITIN showed income associated with a Social Security number that could not possibly belong to the filer.

In 2017, the Internal Revenue Service identified some 1.3 million cases in which illegal aliens used illegitimate or inconsistent Social Security numbers to file tax returns.

Worse yet, Treasury investigators found that the IRS paid out $3.4 billion in tax refunds to known illegal aliens in 2015.

In light of the rampant fraud, tougher federal penalties for “aggravated identity theft” became available in 2004. Aggravated identity theft applies to various immigration offenses, including “false personation of citizenship,” as well as “theft of public money.”

That’s all well and good. But according to a Treasury Department examination of suspect federal tax returns from 2011 to 2016, not a single case was referred for prosecution. So the business of identity theft goes on with only token resistance.

One obvious fix is to get rid of the fraud-prone ITINs altogether. Citizens and legal residents don’t need them; they have Social Security numbers.

If jettisoning ITINs is not possible, or not enough, the IRS should at least be required to communicate with the Department of Homeland Security to check which Social Security numbers may have been used by illegal aliens. Current policy that bars the IRS from exchanging information with DHS is worse than nonsensical; it’s aiding and abetting criminal aliens to continue gaming the system.

The enormity of it all might make Mark Zuckerberg blush.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)’s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Illegal Dreamers are Real Schemers – Conservative Texas

  2. avatar
    Miranda Smith on

    When the factory I worked at shut down my supervisor recommended that I apply for state insurance at least for my children so they wouldn’t be without health insurance.I went in to the local dhs office and filled out all the paperwork.Took it up to the lady at the counter who proceeded to put all of our information into her computer.When she was done she asked me if I had put my daughter’s ss number on there correctly.I dug her card back out of my purse and handed it to her.She looks it over and says excuse me for a moment.When she came back she told me that someone else was using my 2 year old daughter’s ss number to get benefits.People say illegals don’t get benefits but they do and that’s how they do it.By stealing other people’s ss numbers.I would have never known if I hadn’t went and applied for insurance for my kids.

  3. avatar
    Leslie Blenkhorn on

    Every illegal alien engages in some type of document fraud or identity theft, many of these crimes are felonies. None of them are prosecuted. What are the chances that you as an American citizen wouldn’t be prosecuted for even the most basic of these crimes?

    • avatar

      They are all felonies.

      The one place I know of where they are prosecuted is at ports of entry when they are caught using another person’s document in an attempt to make entry to the US.

  4. avatar

    Seems to me both the IRS and Social Security agency if not both in collusion with these crimes, are wholly disinterested in investigating/prosecuting those responsible. This is WAY too common & too reported to get by for so long. I have a suspicion, if these agencies were to be pointedly asked “what to do” they’ll respond with the Old Famous Last Words: “It’s complicated… ” or “it’s complex..” those are typical weasel words that I hear agencies and organizations use to get out of answering. Or they say it’s impossible & they need a new law passed, or that they lack manpower to solve, and so on.

  5. avatar

    Mr. Dane, please clarify the following statement you made in the piece: “The Washington Times reported that 87 percent of online tax filings with an ITIN showed income associated with a Social Security number that could not possibly belong to the filer.”

    My confusion arises b/c if the return was filed with an ITIN, how could the ‘income’ stated thereon be ‘associated with a Social Security Number? Are you saying the filer used an ITIN but attached a fraudulent W-2 with an SSN on it? Please explain why the illegal alien would do that.

    • avatar

      I am retired IRS. I have seen tax returns with a dozen W-2’s, all different, on the return. Goes right though. Illegal gets the withholding and SSA credit, and so does, the illegal.

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