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From: kirniki (kirnikigmail.com)
Date: Thu Apr 08 2010 - 22:00:24 CDT
Last year, Kevin Johns, a construction worker in the Bronx, did his
taxes at the H&R Block store on Riverdale Avenue that he has used for
the past 20 years or so. The next day, though, he got a call from the
tax preparer: his return was rejected because he had already filed. Or
at least, someone had filed in his name. That someone helped himself
or herself to a $8,499 refund.
Both Ms. Hawa and Mr. Johns said they were told by police detectives
investigating their cases that at least 20 customers of the branch and
possibly many more had been robbed by identity thieves who were very
likely H&R Block employees. Both said that the fraudulent filers used
their previous year’s adjusted gross income as proof of identity.
“There’s only place that could have come from,” Mr. Johns said: “H&R Block.”
On Thursday, lawyers for Mr. Johns and Ms. Hawa filed a class-action
suit in the Bronx, alleging that the company failed to take steps to
protect its customers’ security despite previous allegations (and
lawsuits filed in Arizona, Michigan and Illinois) against other H&R
The suit came on the same day, coincidentally, that federal
prosecutors announced fraud charges against 26 tax preparers from the
Bronx, Manhattan and New Jersey — none from H&R Block — accused of
collecting tens of millions of dollars in refunds through identity
theft over a nine-year period.
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