HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Potential victims are speaking out after a Hub City business owner was indicted for fraudulent tax claims.
A grand jury returned 21 counts against Oliver Jackson, the owner of Integrity Tax, on Tuesday.
Authorities said Jackson illegally acted as a representative of the Internal Revenue Service and submitted false claims on the behalf of clients, which totaled more than $152,000.
Integrity Tax first came under fire three years ago, when it was discovered Jackson was operating without a license in the city of Hattiesburg.
One potential victim who did not want her identity revealed reached out to WDAM 7 and said she was a victim of Integrity Tax three years ago.
"It was a hassle," the woman said. "I mean I don't know what they put down. Even with my state taxes they never came back on time. Nothing was on time. What happened is the IRS ended up auditing me."
The next year when she tried to file her son as a dependent, she said she was told someone had already filed.
"I feel violated because I possibly feel that my son was one of those people that he ended up stealing," the woman said.
CPA Willie Sims, owner of Willie B. Sims, Jr., CPA, PLLC in Hattiesburg, has prepared taxes for more than 25 years. He said scams happen all too often and it is important to do research when choosing your tax preparer.
"It's important to research the tax preparer because the tax preparer has access to a lot of in most cases your personal identification information," Sims said. "You want to be able to make sure that information remains safe and secure."
Sims gives these tips on how to choose a tax preparer.
- Make sure the tax preparer has a PTIN number.
- Avoid preparers who charge based on a percentage of your refund.
- Look at the availability of the firm. Will they assist you after the filing deadline?
- Avoid depositing any of your refund into the preparer’s bank account.
- Be leery of any new businesses that come to town at the beginning of the tax season.
- Review any tax returns or paperwork prior to signing. Make sure the information accurately reflects your tax return information.
- Request a copy of your tax return and make sure that copy adequately reflects what’s been filed by that tax preparer.
- Ask the tax preparer if he or she can electronically file a return.
- Make sure the facility is safe to safeguard your information.
- Try to find another preparer if someone tries to guarantee you a refund and they haven’t looked at your information.
"People are doing any and everything to make a dollar," Sims said. "So I would just encourage people if it sounds too good to be true, just like the old saying it probably isn't true. "
But what is true for this victim is the possibility of her family's personal information landing into anyone's hands.
"No telling who has my son's social security number, my social security number, my other children's social security numbers," the woman said. "That's really scary and it makes you feel violated."