Identity Fraud: Who's preparing your taxes? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Identity Fraud: Who's preparing your taxes?


If you've already done your taxes you probably have a feeling of satisfaction that the task is behind you. If you haven't you're probably dreading the task.

19 Action News Reporter, Paul Orlousky uncovers something else to worry about for people who have someone else do their taxes. What do you really know about them?

Millions of people have their taxes done by accountants or tax preparation companies. You're handing over just about every financial and personal record you have to them. Should you ask questions before you do it? More importantly should companies that hire tax preparers ask the questions.

H&R Block has 11,000 offices in the United States and is used without incident by tens of thousands of people every day. 

At the H&R Block office in Vermilion we were alerted to something that made us wonder. 

Are background checks done on employees?

Amber Sheaves, a Block tax preparer has been with the company since 2004.

Lorain County court records show that Sheaves pleaded guilty to identity fraud in 2008. 

She was ordered to pay $1,971 in restitution and was put on three years of probation. 

When the restitution wasn't made probation was extended another year. 

Just last month it was extended another year because she still hadn't paid back the money.

When confronted, Sheaves had no comment.

"I just have a question," said reporter, Paul Orlousky.

"Can we go outside and do this?" asked Sheaves.

"Sure, I just have a question about your conviction," asked Orlousky.

"Oh, I have no comment," replied Sheaves.

"Well, do you think you should be dealing with people's taxes?" asked Orlousky.

On the Block's website, Amber Sheaves listed her areas of expertise in tax preparation and also her love of animals. 

Court records show she's involved in an animal rescue dispute.

"I have a lawyer dealing with this,"said Sheaves. "Well, actually, I have a protection order." 

"Against, for this?" asked Orlousky.

"No comment," replied Sheaves.

But the bigger story is her arrest - Sheaves' plea of guilty and conviction for identity fraud.

It was a case where she signed up for credit cards in another person's name and ran up $30,500 in bills without the person's knowledge. 

Within hours of the confrontation Amber Sheaves was removed from the Block's web site and terminated.

As Block points out there is no evidence that any taxpayer's information was compromised by Amber Sheaves. 

Her conviction is unrelated to her employment here.  

But Amber Sheaves is less important than the question of how she kept working after the felony conviction. 

Why didn't Block know about it?

A statement from the company's corporate office says, "we take this matter very seriously and are currently looking into it further."

But Helen Neeley doesn't buy it. 

She's got phone records of her call to block weeks ago. 

She reported the conviction, even the case number and says she never heard back.

I can't understand how the courts would ever let her work there, how H&R Block would let her work there and how she would even think she could work there," said Neeley.

This identity fraud is particularly interesting. 

Court documents show the victim was Amber Sheaves' sister. 

Over 3 1/2 years Sheaves opened 16 charge accounts in her sister's name without her knowledge. 

The $30,500 she charged up has been sent to collections.

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