Chicago Tax Preparer Faces Fraud Charges
On Wednesday morning, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she has filed a lawsuit to shut down a Chicago tax preparer for defrauding consumers. Madigan filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court to shut down Su Familia Income Tax and its operators Michelle Lopez, Melissa Gasca and Vanessa Campos. The lawsuit alleges Su Familia, at 2638 W. 51st St. in Chicago, purports to offer low-cost tax preparation services for a fee of about $150. Madigan alleges, Su Familia signs consumers up for unnecessary and expensive tax-related financial products and deducts significant additional fees from consumers’ tax refunds without their knowledge. These undisclosed fees are typically $500 per person but can be over $1,000 and in some cases account for over 50 percent of a consumer’s expected tax refund.
To disguise the undisclosed fees that the company takes from consumers’ tax refunds, Madigan alleges Su Familia provided customers fake tax returns showing a lesser tax refund amount. When consumers have discovered this inconsistency and confronted Su Familia, the company has threatened to initiate legal action against the consumers. As a result, customers, many of whom are low-income, do not receive their full tax refund. Along with the lawsuit, Madigan also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to halt Su Familia’s illegal practices. On Friday, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall issued an order preventing Su Familia from charging hidden fees by prohibiting the company from taking fees out of consumers’ tax refunds, and instead requiring it to bill consumers directly.
“The court’s order will ensure that no additional consumers are charged illegal fees to file their tax returns,” Madigan said. “Beware of tax preparers that require you to use a tax refund anticipation product with promises of a faster tax refund, because these offers are frequently laden with expensive and hidden prohibited fees.” In filing the lawsuit, Madigan asked the court to ban this company from the tax preparation business in Illinois, pay refunds to impacted consumers and impose civil penalties. To report a complaint involving a tax refund anticipation product, contact one of Madigan’s Consumer Fraud hotlines: