State AG investigating tax service alleged to target E. Texas

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Texas Attorney General's Office revealed Monday that they are investigating an alleged tax return scheme and warned East Texas residents to avoid recruiters from Syam Tax Services LLC.

In a press release, the office stated they do not normally acknowledge investigations but is doing so to help prevent additional victims from being harmed by the alleged scheme.

Betty Murphy, of Diboll, told KTRE last week that she was a victim of the company. She said she thought she was signing paperwork for a stimulus but realized she had actually signed permission to give someone else her personal information.

The AG office stated it appears Syam enlists recruiters to canvass small churches and senior residences for elderly victims and tells them they are eligible for a cash benefit under a federal stimulus funds program. They then provide their driver's license, Social Security and bank account numbers to recruiters in order to receive the benefits. Syam then files a fraudulent tax return in the victim's name, according to the press release.

The IRS provides half of the refund to Syam. Then when the IRS realizes the return is fraudulent, the agency demands the victim to repay the entire fund, plus penalties and interest.

The AG's office states the scheme appears to target victims in the areas of Lufkin, Beaumont and Port Arthur.

To avoid becoming a victim, the AG's office provides the following tips:

* Ask for the tax preparer's credentials.

* Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the tax preparer.

* Verify whether the tax preparer is a certified public accountant.

* Make sure the business is open year-round in the event clients need to ask follow-up questions about their returns.

* Read the tax return carefully before signing it. Never sign a form with spaces left blank.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.