Officials: Tax Prep Business 'Fraudulent'
Tax preparers at the center of a Call 6 Investigation are now facing federal charges for inflating thousands of tax returns involving millions of dollars.
Call 6 Investigator Rafael Sanchez has been following the business, Prime Time Tax Specialists, for more than a year.
A federal complaint that calls the business a "fraudulent" operation was just unsealed.
Tuesday, the company's owners made their court appearance, while former clients expressed concerns about their tax returns.
"I think they should be closed down. I think they are taking advantage of people," said Nannie Martinez, pointing to her paperwork as proof.
Martinez went to Prime Time Tax Services at 5154 W. 34th St. to get her taxes done.
She was expecting a refund of about $6,000 to $7,000, which is what she said she usually gets every year.
"They typed in all the information and at the end they told me my refund. When they told me I almost fell out of my chair, what they told me," she said.
Her preparer told her the refund would be $13,508, twice what she usually receives.
The Call 6 Investigators found that Prime Time Tax Service employees inflated refunds by giving college tax credits to customers who had no children in college.
When Call 6 Investigators visited the business in February to ask why, they were yelled at and literally pushed out the door.
Martinez's tax paperwork showed she received more than $3,900 in college tax credits for her six children, but she has no children in college.
"They deliberately gave me this credit, knowing my kids are not near, or close or old enough to be in college," Martinez said.
Prime Time Tax Services produced a refund for Martinez in the form of two cashier's checks that totaled $12,008.10, nearly $1,500 short of the $13,500 refund she'd been promised.
"Their explanation to me is that the IRS took away some of that credit," she said. "Obviously, this is not my money. I have to pay this back."
Martinez said she has the two checks in bank account because she's been afraid to cash them.
Prime Time Tax Services owners Bernard and Omega Chatyoka are being held in the Marion County Jail because officials said they are flight risks.