Before the IRS went into full automation mode and before the IRS used computers in any meaningful way, there were the “multiple-filers.” This was the illegal practice of filing false returns (with phony names, wages, and social security numbers) claiming refunds — usually several returns claiming modest refunds so as to not draw too much attention. And it worked. Many refunds were paid out in error this way. But the multiple-filers would get caught sometimes too (the IRS would probably say “most of the time”).
The term “multiple-filing” doesn’t appear anywhere on the IRS website. Today it is more commonly referred to as “refund fraud.”
In the early 1960′s the IRS housed its computers in a single location in Martinsburg, West Virginia. That first IRS computer center began busting multiple-filers and other tax cheats with a computer system known as the “Martinsburg Monster.”
Check out the April 12, 1963 Life magazine story discussing several successful multiple-filer busts by IRS Intelligence Division head, H. Alan Long and his agents.