orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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January 12, 2013

Syam Tax Services charged with tax fraud and identity theft for scheme targeting senior citizens

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today charged Syam Tax Services, LLC and two of its officers – Shannon Mays and Marshrief Shead – with fraudulently obtaining elderly Texans’ sensitive personal information and illegally filing falsified federal income tax returns on their behalf. In response to the State’s enforcement action, Judge Michael Gomez of the 129th District Court of Harris County today froze Syam’s assets and entered a temporary restraining order against all named defendants.

“Targeting senior centers and churches, Syam Tax Services launched an apparently well-orchestrated scheme to defraud the elderly – and even worse, those who rely on federal benefits for their well-being,” Attorney General Abbott said. “My office is working to put a stop to this despicable fraud, and thanks to the court order we obtained today, Syam is prohibited from continuing to violate the law. We first informed Texans of this scam in December, and are now moving swiftly to shut down Syam’s deceptive operation and prevent other seniors from becoming victims of this scam.”

Last month, Attorney General Abbott announced that the State was investigating Syam Tax Services, and cautioned Texans to avoid the defendants’ tax fraud scheme. The results of that investigation are revealed in court documents filed today, which explain how Syam enlisted recruiters to canvass East Texas churches and senior centers, where elderly Social Security or disability recipients could be recruited. When Syam’s recruiters approached potential victims, they falsely claimed that low-income Social Security recipients were eligible for “free stimulus money” or “social security stimulus.” 

Next, the recruiters explained that “stimulus” recipients had to provide certain sensitive personal information – including their date of birth, Social Security and bank account numbers, and a copy of their driver’s license – and simply sign a form in order to receive their alleged stimulus. Then, unbeknownst to the victims, the recruiters turned the form and sensitive personal information over to Syam, which prepared and filed a fraudulent tax return on the victim’s behalf. With the filing of the fraudulent tax return, Syam falsely claimed that the victim was entitled to up to $1,000 or more in refundable tax credits. Expanding on the fraudulent scheme, Syam built in unlawful profits for itself by directing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to deposit approximately half of the tax refund into Syam’s own bank account, while the portion that remained after Syam took its cut went to the victim.

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