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IRS crackdown on tax fraud targets 105 in 23 states

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government has swooped down on 105 people in 23 states in the past week as part of a nationwide crackdown on identity theft and tax-refund fraud that was timed to warn cheats to beware this tax season, the Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday.

The sweep ranged from Alaska to Florida and included 80 complaints and indictments and 58 arrests. It has already produced a handful of guilty pleas and sentencings. Besides the IRS, other agencies involved were the Justice Department's Tax Division, the Postal Service and local U.S. attorney's offices after investigations that lasted months and, in some cases, years.

IRS officials said the use of stolen identities to fraudulently file for tax refunds, generally involving stolen Social Security numbers, is a growing problem. Last year, the agency found 260,000 income tax returns with confirmed attempts at identity fraud and blocked the payment of $1.4 billion worth of refunds. In 2010, the IRS detected identity fraud in 49,000 returns and prevented the payment of $247 million worth of bogus refunds.

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Ex-banker loses knighthood

LONDON (AP) -- Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin, who led the bank into near collapse, has been stripped of his knighthood, the British government said Tuesday.

The Cabinet Office said the knighthood had been "canceled and annulled" because Goodwin had brought the honors system into disrepute.

Revoking knighthoods is rare, but the government said, "The scale and severity of the impact of his actions as CEO of RBS made this an exceptional case."

Since he left RBS in 2008 with a multimillion-dollar pension as the bank was foundering, Goodwin has become, in the view of many Britons, a high-profile public villain of the financial crisis.

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Apple taps exec to run stores

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple said Tuesday it has named the chief executive officer of the largest British consumer-electronics retailer to run its stores, ending more than seven months of searching for an executive to oversee international expansion.

John Browett will start at Apple in April as senior vice president, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said in a statement. The hiring marks the first outside senior-executive appointment by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Browett replaces Ron Johnson, who left the world's most-valuable technology company last year to become CEO of JC Penney.

Browett, who had been CEO of Dixons Retail since 2007, will lead Apple's 361-store business as it builds more sites outside the United States.

-- Bloomberg News

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Loss likely for bailout fund

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new report says the government's financial bailout program will see a $23 billion loss in the year that ended Sept. 30, compared with a $37 billion gain on taxpayers' investment the year before.

The Congressional Budget Office made the prediction in its report issued Tuesday on the federal budget. The expected loss is mainly due to the drop in the stock prices of General Motors and insurer American International Group, in which the government still holds big stakes.

AIG shares fell from around $40 to about $25 over the past year; GM shares fell from around $35 to $24.

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U.S. economy lifts UPS

NEW YORK (AP) -- The tide has turned in UPS' global business. Earnings at the world's largest package delivery company are now being powered by an economic "uplift" in the U.S., while growth in the formerly red-hot international division has slowed.

UPS said a stronger than expected U.S. economy and a surge in online holiday sales led operating profit higher in the fourth quarter of last year. While net income was lower due to an accounting charge, adjusted profit rose 21 percent and topped Wall Street's expectations.