BEAUMONT, TX (KTRE) - On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted a Dallas tax preparer who allegedly obtained elderly Texans' sensitive personal information and illegally falsified federal income tax returns on their behalf.
Shannon Tecoko Mays, 36, was indicted on federal conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges.
"According to prosecutors, an investigation began in August 2012 in response to numerous complaints to state and federal authorities from citizens in Port Arthur, Anahuac, Nacogdoches and Lufkin, Texas regarding income tax returns that were being fraudulently prepared on their behalf," a press release stated. "During the investigation, it was discovered that Mays was operating numerous offices across the United States under the name 'Syam Tax Services, L.L.C.' and 'Baby Momma Tax.'"
The press release stated that although his principal office was located in Dallas, Mays also operated or sought to operate satellite offices in Fort Worth, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The indictment alleged that Mays targeted people who were generally exempt from having to file income tax returns because they would be less likely to discover a fraudulent tax return had been filed on their behalf.
"To further facilitate the scheme, Mays employed 'recruiters,' paying them from $50-100 for every client they successfully brought into Syam Tax," the press release stated. "In order to avoid detection, Mays altered the taxpayer's address and phone numbers on the returns so that any phone calls or correspondence from the IRS would not reach the taxpayer. The scheme also used electronic deposits to ensure paper checks would not be mailed to the taxpayer."
Among those allegedly scammed by Syam Tax Services was Betty Murphy of Diboll. In December 2012, she told East Texas News that she knew something wasn't right when the company's representative promised several of their friends that they would receive a federal stimulus check for $600.
In addition, Lufkin residents Jackie Waddelton and Eloise Davis, who had relatives who fell victim to the scams, spoke at a 2013 press conference about the charges filed against Syam Tax Services by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Mays filed 4,226 tax returns for the 2011 tax year and claimed approximately $3.15 million, the press release stated. If convicted, Mays faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
This case is being investigated by Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Port Arthur Police Department, the Texas Attorney General's Office - Consumer Protection Division, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.