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Tax Preparation Business Accused Of Fraud

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - John Sanders nearly lost his home, after a problem with his tax refund check.

“Probably been one of the hardest trials of my life,” he said.

The check had been issued by Instant Tax Service, the nation’s fourth largest tax preparation business, with about a dozen locations across the Metroplex.

Shortly after Sanders deposited the check, worth $4700 dollars, into his bank account, someone cashed an identical check at a check cashing business in Pleasant Grove.

“If you compare the two checks side by side, they have the same numbers on both of them,” said Sanders, showing copies he was able to get of both checks.

His bank suddenly withdrew the money it had deposited into his account.

“They told me the check had come back fraudulent and my account was negative. I couldn’t believe it,” said Sanders.

Sanders, who’d already spent the money, was left more than four thousand dollars in debt and unable to make his house payment.

He’s now suing Adanu Kidane, the owner of the Instant Tax Service franchise on Lancaster Road in Fort Worth, who he believes made two copies of his check.

In an email to CBS11, Kidane denied doing so.

“We have looked at everything and it is a serious matter at hand, he wrote. “We have no control once the check is handed out to the client. but we are gonna … have the police do full investigation…”

Sanders, though, isn’t the only one complaining.

“People here everyday looking for their checks,” said Laquita Moore, who runs the pool hall next door to Kidane’s store.

The office now sits empty with a sign informing customers it operates “by appointment only.”

Kidane himself is rarely seen. He hadn’t been here in like a month, said Moore.

Kidane is hardly the only Instant Tax Service franchise owner facing trouble.

The U.S. Government has accused the chain of pervasive tax fraud.

In May, it heads to court to try to shut down the franchisor, ITS Financial. The lawsuit claims the company targeted low income customers and charged as much as a $1,000 dollars in fees for 15 minutes of tax preparation work.

Sanders is now getting by with help from his church.

He says he just wants his money back and his life back in order.

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