Five federal workers at an Internal Revenue Service office in California have been charged with computer fraud for illegally accessing the confidential records of taxpayers.
The US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of California hit all five with the misdemeanor charge of accessing and inspecting the tax return information of individuals unlawfully and without authorization. According to court documents filed by the US Department of Justice, the five IRS workers accessed and viewed the records of up to 13 people early in 2006.
A spokeswoman for the US Attorney's Office based in California said she did not know what relation, if any, the defendants had to the people they snooped on.
The spokeswoman added, though, that all five were caught by the IRS' own security system, which routinely audits employees' computer systems. "They knew they were not supposed to do that and they knew they were going to be audited," she said.
Corina Yepez is accused of accessing one person's file, while Melissa Moisa and Brenda Jurado both allegedly accessed two people's files. Irene Fierro and David Baker are charged with snooping into the files of four people.
Moisa and Baker are slated for preliminary hearings on July 10. The other three are set for their hearings on June 26.
All five are free and awaiting court appearances.