WASHINGTON – A Nevada federal court has permanently barred Benyam Tewolde from preparing tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. Tewolde and his wife, Yordanos Kidanits, are the alleged co-owners of an Instant Tax Service franchise that operates at multiple locations in the Las Vegas area. Instant Tax Service is a nationally franchised tax preparation company based in Dayton, Ohio.
Kidantis and the franchisee, Koraggio LLC, were also permanently enjoined from engaging in certain abusive practices. The civil injunction orders, to which the defendants consented without admitting the allegations against them, were signed on Dec. 27 by Judge Miranda M. Du of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
According to the government complaint, the defendants helped employees at their Instant Tax Service franchise offices to engage in a variety of misconduct, including:
- Preparing phony tax-return forms with fabricated businesses and income,
- Falsely claiming education credits,
- Claiming false filing status,
- Claiming false dependents,
- Selling deceptive loan products,
- Filing tax returns without customer consent or authorization, and
- Preparing bogus W-2 forms, based on information from employee paystubs
The complaint further alleged that Tewolde personally prepared fraudulent returns.
The injunction permanently bars Tewolde from preparing or filing federal tax returns for others, training tax preparers and owning or managing a tax preparation business.
Kidane and Koraggio are enjoined from violating the federal tax laws and consumer protection laws. The court order requires them to hire a monitor at their expense who will periodically report to the Justice Department to ensure compliance with the injunction. The order also bars Kidane and Koraggio from marketing abusive loan products, including holiday, or instant cash loan or advance products offered to customers based on information obtained from the customer’s paystub.
The case is one of five similar lawsuits that the Justice Department brought against Instant Tax Service franchises earlier this year. One of those suits is pending against the nationwide franchisor of Instant Tax Service and its owner, Fesum Ogbazion, in Dayton. The court in that case has entered a preliminary injunction, and trial on the government’s request to shut down the Instant Tax Service franchisor permanently is scheduled for next May.
In the past decade, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained hundreds of injunctions to stop the promotion of tax-fraud schemes and the preparation of fraudulent returns. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website.