With the help of the Port Arthur Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Better Business Bureau, a Dallas tax preparer has been indicted for fraud.
At a Feb. 5 press conference in Beaumont, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Malcolm Bales announced that Shannon Tecoko Mays, 36, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Prosecutors say the investigation began in August 2012 in response to complaints to state and federal authorities from residents of Port Arthur, Beaumont, Orange, Anahuac, Nacogdoches and Lufkin. The Better Business Bureau of Southeast Texas also participated in the investigation after complaints that income tax returns were being fraudulently prepared on their behalf.
During the investigation, it was discovered that Mays was operating numerous offices across the country under the name Syam Tax Services LLC and Baby Momma Tax. The principal offices are located in Dallas, with satellite offices in numerous locations including Fort Worth, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The indictment alleges that Mays targeted individuals who were generally exempt from having to file tax returns because they were less likely to be aware of fraudulent returns filed on their behalf.
Mays is also alleged to have employed “recruiters” who were paid $50 to $100 for every client they successfully brought in to Syam Tax.
In addition, the investigation alleges Mays altered the address and telephone numbers of the taxpayers so correspondence from the IRS would not reach them.
The scheme also used electronic deposits to ensure paper checks would not be mailed to the taxpayer, Bales said.
For the tax year 2011, Mays filed 4,226 tax returns claiming around $3 million.
Texas Attorney General has had its eye on Syam Tax since it filed a complaint against the company on Jan. 10, 2013, for alleged violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Identity Theft Act.
According to the AG's complaint, Syam Tax targeted elderly and disabled consumers and deceived them into providing their social security numbers and other sensitive personal information by claiming they were eligible for free “stimulus money,” “social security stimulus money” or “FEMA stimulus package money from the Obama administration. Syam allegedly said they could assist the consumer in obtaining the funds, which many were told could be up to $1,000.
“Instead, Defendants used the information to file fraudulent income tax returns in their names,” the complaint states.
Bales said the criminal investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, the 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.
Mays faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.
The US Attorney’s Office states it is important to note that a grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt.