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Press Release

Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Southeast Florida Tax Return Preparers and Owners of “Tax Mon$Ter” and “Tax Pros” Tax Preparation Businesses

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Businesses Allegedly Prepare Fraudulent Tax Returns While Charging Customers Undisclosed, Unconscionable Fees

The United States filed a civil injunction suit seeking to bar Christopher Lawrence and Kenneth Aikens from owning, operating or franchising a tax return preparation business and from preparing tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today.  

The complaint also asks the court to order Lawrence and Aikens to disgorge the fees that they obtained through the alleged fraudulent tax return preparation.  According to the complaint, Lawrence owns and operates Tax Mon$ter and Aikens owns and operates Tax Pros, each of which is a tax return preparation business with locations in Southeast Florida.  Lawrence was previously a franchisee of LBS Tax Services, the complaint alleges.  This lawsuit is one of nine filed against LBS Tax Services-related individuals, including Walner Gachette, Douglas Mesadieu, Jean Demesmin, Kerny Pierre-Louis, Demetrius Scott, Jason Stinson, Wilfrid Antoine, Tonya Chambers, Jehoakim Victor, Lauri Rodriguez and Milot Odne.

According to the complaint, Lawrence and Aikens target primarily low-income customers with deceptive and misleading advertisements, prepare and file fraudulent tax returns to fraudulently increase their customers’ refunds and profit through unconscionable, exorbitant and often undisclosed fees—all at the expense of their customers and the U.S. Treasury.

According to the complaint, Lawrence’s and Aikens’ tax return preparation businesses expressly promote and encourage the preparation of false and fraudulent federal tax returns in order to maximize corporate and individual profits.  The complaint alleges that Lawrence’s and Aikens’ stores engage in fraudulent activity, including:

            •           Falsely claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit

            •           Claiming improper filing status (i.e. head of household for married individuals)

            •           Fabricating businesses and related business income and expenses

            •           Fabricating Schedule A deductions, particularly for unreimbursed employee business expenses

            •           Charging deceptive and unconscionable fees 

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015.  The IRS has some tips on their website for choosing a tax preparer.  In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers.  Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department website.  An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found on this page.  If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

Updated November 14, 2016

Topic
Tax
Component
Press Release Number: 15-1300