Now that so much personal, identifying information is stored online, prosecutors and the courts are under significant pressure to take a tough stance against identity theft. Depending on the circumstances, an identity theft charge may be prosecuted in state court or federal court.

Identity theft is often connected to mortgage fraud, credit card fraud and fraud that involves securing loans or services in another person’s name. Increasingly, though, during the tax season spanning from January to mid-April, state and federal authorities prosecute identity theft charges in connection with tax fraud.

Two Florida residents are currently facing tax-related identity theft charges in St. Louis. The man and woman are accused of stealing the identities of employees of a local bank in order to receive more than $1 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

According to a federal affidavit, when about 90 bank employees tried filing their tax returns, the employees found that their personal information had been stolen. Investigators say the man and woman used malware to obtain the employees’ information, which was then used to file tax returns in the employees’ names.

Investigators reportedly found bank accounts that were linked to the man and woman, and the accounts had received multiple tax refunds. Now the man and woman are charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated identity theft and steal government funds.

When federal agencies such as the FBI and the IRS get involved in a criminal investigation, the stakes are very high for the accused. Anyone facing a federal identity theft charge should speak as soon as possible with criminal defense attorney with experience in federal court. A defense lawyer can explain your options and develop a strategy to protect your rights and freedom.