Cyber crimes are escalating at a dramatic rate, and even perhaps more profitable are your identification numbers. The I.R.S. is "ripe for picking" with outdated security measures practically giving the crooks an open door policy. To put it bluntly, the I.R.S. fell asleep.

Waiting for your income tax refund check? Someone else may already have it.

Thieves armed with laptop computers and taxpayers’ names and Social Security numbers are flooding the Internal Revenue Service with bogus tax returns — and getting back refund checks and debit cards typically worth thousands of dollars. More than 460,000 taxpayers were victims of the scam between 2008 and 2011.

It’s “a very lucrative crime to commit,” said Tampa, Fla., police detective Sal Augeri. “There is relatively little risk of being caught, [there is] a seemingly endless amount of available money, and the crimes usually don’t involve violence.”