Why is IRS Involved in Electronic Crimes
Criminal Investigation: Electronic Crimes Program
As financial investigators, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) fills a unique niche in the federal law enforcement community. Today’s sophisticated schemes to defraud the government and the American economy demand the analytical ability of financial investigators to wade through complex arrays of financial records. Records of transactions are moving from paper ledgers to computers to off-site, online storage. As a result, IRS-CI is developing tools and techniques to follow and find those records, wherever they may be.
IRS-CI designed the Electronic Crimes Program (ECP) to organize our growing expertise in computer and network forensics. Computer Investigative Specialists (CIS) use specialized equipment and techniques to preserve digital evidence and to recover financial data, including data that may have been encrypted, password protected or hidden by other electronic means.
Program Strategy Overview
The Electronic Crimes Program’s mission is to support IRS special agents in the collection and analysis of digital evidence. As the incidence of computers found during enforcement actions has risen from 5% to over 95%, the reliance on ECP personnel to secure and analyze digital data has grown as well. In the past, agents might find a single personal computer; now they encounter multiple computers, often linked together in a network, each having the capacity to hold several truckloads of documents.
Computer Investigative Specialists participate in search warrants with investigating agents and are responsible for the seizure and processing of evidence contained in various types of digital media. Their primary mission is to secure the data, reduce it by eliminating programs and other files of non-evidentiary value, and then return the critical information to the investigating agent. The agent can then electronically review evidence, which is much faster than the old manual paper procedures used in the past. This technique, together with the scanning of paper documents, puts the entire investigation in a digital format that allows the investigation team and prosecutors to locate items of interest, move files among themselves and digitally present evidence in today’s electronic courtrooms.
Data Input and Research Facilities
In the rapidly evolving world of electronic crimes, CI’s agents must be proficient with both new computers and software and dated technology that may still be used by those committing financial crimes. The Electronic Crimes Program maintains two facilities to assist with this task. The Data Input Center in Kentucky is a state-of-the-art scanning and transcription center capable of converting volumes of paper evidence into digital format. A Electronic Crimes Technology & Support Center in Virginia focuses on developing and enhancing techniques for processing digital evidence, using new technology, warehousing existing technology, and providing training to CISs. These facilities enable agents across the country and around the world to follow a target through the wire on the back of the box into cyberspace where the evidence of an electronic crime may be found.
Criminal Investigation (CI)
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: July 17, 2008