BATON ROUGE – A joint initiative of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) and the Attorney General’s office to prevent fraud committed by tax preparers has yielded numerous arrests and identified millions of dollars in potentially fraudulent income tax refunds.
The investigative focus on tax preparers has resulted in ten arrests since it began less than a year ago in March 2013. All such cases involve a total of $1.8 million in fraudulent refunds to date.
The LDR Taxpayer Refund Intercept Program (TRIP) analyzes income tax refunds as they are processed. When TRIP unit analysts observe suspicious patterns, they investigate to determine if fraud is involved.
The most recent TRIP arrests focus on alleged fraud connected to Quick Tax, a tax preparation business with locations in Baton Rouge and Baker. Ebony C. Martin, of 17424 Airline Highway in Prairieville, was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Monday, October 7, 2013; Shantel Banks, of 8441 Betty Smothers Avenue in Baton Rouge, was arrested on Tuesday, October 8; and Alfreda Walker, of 4912 Longfellow Drive in Baton Rouge, was arrested on Thursday, October 10. All three face felony counts including theft, computer fraud, tax evasion and filing or maintaining false public records.
“According to the arrest warrants, the suspects prepared tax returns with phony business loss information that resulted in fraudulently large income tax refunds for their clients,” said Barry Kelly, director of the LDR Criminal Investigations Division.
The alleged criminal activity in the Quick Tax case involved $210,422 in fraudulent refunds.
In an unrelated case this month, Lawrence James Richard of 12535 Arnold Road in Walker was arrested on October 3, 2013, on charges of tax evasion and failure to file. He is accused of failing to report income to the state in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.