The Internal Revenue Service has lost emails from five more employees who are part of congressional investigations into the unfair treatment of conservative groups for tax exempt status before the 2010 and 2012 elections, the Daily Caller reported. Earlier in July, the total number of crash victims tied to the IRS targeting scandal had been revealed to be more than 20.

Five more employees were added to the tax agency's computer crash list on Friday, the Associated Press reported. Initially, the IRS claimed to have lost emails from seven employees, including ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, but then changed its estimate to state that nearly 20 employees suffered email-deleting computer crashes.

Adding to the growing public consensus that Lerner, who then headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status, was abusing her agency's authority to unfairly and illegally target conservative leaning and Tea Party not-for-profit groups, the new computer crash victims include two more Cincinnati-based tax-exempt agents who worked under Lerner.

The announcement came just hours after new emails revealed that the IRS improperly obtained donor lists from nonprofit groups as part of a "secret research project" being run by Lerner and Nikole Flax, both of whose emails and hard drive were allegedly wiped out after they suffered computer crashes.

According to emails released Thursday by the nonprofit group Judicial Watch, which obtained the emails in a pending Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the "secret research project" was revealed by IRS official David Fish in a June 27, 2012 email to Lerner's direct subordinate Holly Paz, according to the Daily Caller.

"Joseph Urban [IRS Technical Advisor, Tax Exempt and Government Entities] had actually started a secret research project on whether we could, consistent with 6104, argue that [REDACTED]," Fish wrote.

"Joe was quite agitated yesterday when I told him what we were doing. (He was involved when the initial question was raised, but we didn't continue reading him in)," Fish continued. "At one point he started saying that this was a decision for Steve Miller-I told him we were already doing it, and that I didn't know whether Lois had already talked to Nikole [Flax, former IRS Chief of Staff to IRS Commissioner Steve Miller] about this. Would not be surprised if he already started working on Lois."

"Thanks for the heads up," Paz replied. "The decision was made by Steve, based on advice from P and A. [Procedure and Administration]."

Blaming computer crashes for the lost emails, IRS has stated to have found no evidence that proves the emails to have been destroyed deliberately.

In the meantime, U.S. House investigators will resume their inquiry into the lost emails when Congress returns from recess next week, according to the AP.