For years, law enforcement officials and the IRS were aware of the fraudulent practice yet did nothing to stop it because the perpetrators were already serving prison sentences that usually paled in comparison to tax fraud conviction. A U.S. Treasury Department audit discovered the scam, exposed by the WESH reporter Stephen Stock, costs American taxpayers more than $68 million in 2004 alone.
A WESH press release said a bill aimed at preventing the practice overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives this week on its way to becoming a law. According to Rep. Rick Keller, "the WESH investigation resulted in us successfully getting a congressional hearing and now passage of legislation which cracks down on the prisoner tax fraud problem — which could end up ultimately saving taxpayers $800 million a year." The bill must still pass the U.S. Senate before becoming law.
Stock’s "Doing Time, Stealing Your Money" report that brought attention to the problem was awarded a prestigious first place Green Eyeshade Award for TV Investigative Reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2005. The report was also a 2005 IRE Awards finalist.