JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Seventeen arrests and counting. They're the result of a seven-month investigation called Operation Zig Zag. It got its name because investigators zig zagged the country looking for victims and suspects.
State Attorney Angela Corey said, "I can tell you this is one of the largest identify theft cases that we have investigated in our area."
The suspects include local credit union tellers and a hospital employee. People who investigators say were stealing identities and passing them along to others, who used them to file a half-million dollars worth of bogus tax returns.
Secret Service Agent Paul Elliott said, "While they're filing false returns, it's money coming straight from the taxpayer. It's not someone cheating on their taxes. This is a total theft of government money, taxpayer money."
So far, 185 victims have been identified. "We found victims that are children. We found victims who are deceased," said Corey.
Investigators say these arrests should serve as a reminder for you to protect yourself against identity theft, and check your credit report regularly.
Operation Zig Zag was a joint effort between the State Attorney's Office, the IRS, the Secret Service, and JSO.