Tax Preparer Guilty in SYAM Tax Service Scheme and Failing to Appear for Trial
BEAUMONT, Texas – A 39-year-old Dallas tax preparer has pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today. The defendant Shannon Tecoko Mays pleaded guilty to federal tax violations and failure to appear for his trial on that charge in early 2015. Mays entered his guilty plea to two felony indictments today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn.
According to information presented in court, an investigation began in August 2012 in response to numerous complaints to state and federal authorities from citizens in Port Arthur, Anahuac, Nacogdoches and Lufkin, Texas regarding income tax returns that were being fraudulently prepared on their behalf. During the investigation, it was discovered that Mays was operating numerous offices across the United States under the name “Syam Tax Services, L.L.C.” and “Baby Momma Tax.” Although the principal office was located in Dallas, Mays also operated or sought to operate satellite offices in numerous other locations, including Fort Worth, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Mays was indicted in February 2014 and alleged to have targeted individuals who were generally exempt from having to file income tax returns because they would be less likely to discover a fraudulent tax return had been filed on their behalf. To further facilitate the scheme, Mays employed “recruiters,” paying them from $50-100 for every client they successfully brought into Syam Tax. In order to avoid detection, Mays altered the taxpayer’s address and phone numbers on the returns so that any phone calls or correspondence from the IRS would not reach the taxpayer. The scheme also used electronic deposits to ensure paper checks would not be mailed to the taxpayer. For the tax year 2011, Mays filed 4,226 tax returns claiming approximately $6,000,000 in refunds. A successful injunction suit brought by the Texas Attorney General’s Office – Consumer Protection Division in 2014 recovered approximately $1,282,000 from Syam Tax Service bank accounts which was returned to the U.S. Treasury. One recruiter form the Port Arthur area, Diana Broussard McCoy, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in January 2015, and was sentenced to five years probation by Chief Judge Ron Clark. Another recruiter, Myra Jones, pleaded guilty in March, 2014, to Impersonating an Internal Revenue Service employee, and was also sentenced to probation by Chief Judge Ron Clark.
When trial was set for January 2015, Mays failed to appear for the final pretrial conference on January 8 and then failed to appear for trial on January 12. Mays was indicted by a federal grand jury for Obstruction of Justice the following month and he remained a fugitive until his capture by U.S. Marshals in Fort Worth in August 2017. At sentencing, Mays faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud conspiracy and ten years on the Obstruction charge, of which the sentence for obstruction must run consecutive. A sentencing date before Chief Judge Ron Clark will be set after completion of a presentence report.
This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Port Arthur Police Department, the Texas Attorney General’s Office – Consumer Protection Division, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert L. Rawls and Chris Tortorice.