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Images from the IRS show what an educational program looks like, not on a training of agents

The IRS Educational Program intently educates the public about the IRS through outreach sessions with high school and college students. Posts on social media have misrepresented a video from one of t

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Short Take

The “Adrian Project” of the IRS Criminal Investigation division uses community outreach events with high school and college students to inform the public about the IRS. Social media posts include a video from one of the sessions with the bogus claim that it demonstrates agents receiving training. A university in New Jersey published the pictures in 2017 and earlier this year.

Full Article

Because it will earn over $79 billion over 10 years under the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS has been in the news and a target of Republican and conservative social media remarks.

Critics have falsely asserted that the IRS will now employ “87,000 more agents” to look into regular people and have erroneously asserted that recent purchases of ammunition by the IRS may be a part of a “broader attempt” to remove ammunition from the market.

Currently, the agency is the subject of a fresh, popular claim. A video and images that purport to depict agents undergoing training for the IRS Criminal Investigation division are being shared on social media.

The IRS Criminal Investigation branch is the sixth-largest federal law enforcement organization in the United States, as we’ve previously stated. The division doesn’t regularly audit regular Americans for the IRS. Its special agents need access to firearms and training to conduct investigations into criminal cases including money laundering, cybercrime, bank secrecy, national security, national defense, and drug trafficking organizations.

However, the information in the blogs is not taken from a course for the IRS Criminal Investigation division. The pictures really depict the division’s interactions with high school and college students at community outreach events.

The Bongino Report, a website run by right commentator Dan Bongino, uploaded a video on Rumble with the misleading headline, “Newly revealed IRS training video BREAKS the internet.”

A Facebook post titled “Footage shows armed training for IRS Criminal Division” uploaded the same video. More than 44,000 people viewed the post, and almost 3,000 people liked it.

Another Facebook post provided images with the comment, “These are true shots of an IRS agent training session,” some of which included the same people as in the film. Not at all.

The images and video, according to Justin Cole, a spokesman for the IRS Criminal Investigation division, are from a program known as the “Adrian Project,” which has been presented at numerous colleges and high schools around the nation.

To be clear, IRS-CI does NOT provide any aspiring special agents with this training, Cole stated. This event serves to inform the public about who we are and what we do through community engagement.

The Adrian Project is a one-day program where students take part in a fictitious criminal investigation. It is called after the first college where the IRS Criminal Investigations division conducted the project 20 years ago.

Cole claimed that the images and video were all taken at Stockton University in New Jersey and date from 2017 or early this year. In October 2017 and March 2022, the university uploaded the pictures to Flickr and the school website, designating them as Adrian Project-related activities. The YouTube post that was included in the social media post from Stockton University was made in 2017.

The Adrian Project was brought to Stockton’s Campus Center by the IRS Criminal Investigation Newark Field Office for a day-long exercise of a pretend criminal investigation, according to the video’s caption.

Participants in the program “probe a simulated financial crime while being observed by IRS-CI special agents and professional staff,” according to Cole. In scenario-based education overseen by IRS-CI special agents, the curriculum, which is almost two decades old, walks students through a fundamental overview of undercover operations, surveillance, subpoenas, and search warrants.

According to the program’s website, students are “sworn in” as special agents in the morning and outfitted with IRS safety vests, handcuffs, toy weapons, and radios to connect with their counterpart agents working the case. Students learn about suspect interviews, surveillance techniques, and document analysis while honing their forensic accounting skills. When the kids solve the crime and apprehend the pretend criminal, the day is over.

IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig was instructed by Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen not to utilize the increased funding to step up enforcement of taxpayers making less than $400,000.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of a number of groups that Facebook is collaborating with to disprove false information spread on social media. You may read some of our earlier articles here. Our editorial content is not subject to Facebook’s control.

Justin Cole is the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit’s director of communications. to FactCheck.org by email. 18 Aug 2022.

IRS: “The Adrian Project lets students spend a day as special agents in the Criminal Investigation division of the IRS.” IRS.gov. revised on November 15, 2021.

Smith, Brea Contrary to social media posts, the IRS will target “high-income” tax evaders with new funding. FactCheck.org 18 Aug 2022.

Stockton College. Accounting Students Learn About IRS Criminal Investigations Through Hands-On Experience. Stockton.edu. 30 Oct 2017.

“The final presentation of the Adrian Project.” Adrian College, February 8, 2012.

Images Show IRS Educational Program; Agent Training Not Shown originally published on FactCheck.org.