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Illinois Scorches Mo’Money Tax Service

CHICAGO (CN) - The Illinois attorney general seeks restitution of at least $800,000 from Mo'Money Tax Service, claiming it filed tax returns "riddled with errors," charged "exorbitant, undisclosed fees," and didn't give customers their refund checks.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Mo'Money Tax Service, Simply Taxes, corporate officers of both companies, and Global America Management, in Cook County Court.

"Without customers' permission, this company filed annual tax returns riddled with errors and charged taxpayers exorbitant, undisclosed fees, but worst of all, it failed to provide consumers with their refund checks," Madigan said in a statement.

According to the 43-page complaint: "In early February 2012, dozens of invalid checks drafted at Mo'Money Taxes locations ... were distributed in the Chicago area. Consumers attempting to cash and deposit these checks were turned away by financial institutions which were unable to verify that the check had been validly drafted on the bank account listed on the check."

Madigan says: "After numerous delays and the issuance of additional invalid checks, Mo'Money Texas closed its Chicago area locations ... To date, over 400 Illinois consumers are still waiting for their checks. In some cases consumers continue to wait over a month after the IRS remitted their tax refunds to the bank account ... pursuant to a refund processing contract with Mo'Money Taxes."

Madigan says defendants Markey Granberry and Derrick Robinson "issued a number of statements addressing the operational difficulties facing Mo'Money Taxes ... [and] referred to themselves alternately as the co-owners and co-CEOs of Mo'Money Taxes."

In addition, the attorney general says in the complaint: "Mo'Money Taxes prepared and filed numerous unauthorized tax returns by employing a bait-and-switch marketing technique on unwitting consumers. Consumers were lured into providing Mo'Money Taxes with their personal identity information by offers for illusory refund anticipation loans and no-string-attached refund estimations. Mo'Money Taxes used this personal identification information to create and file unauthorized tax returns and then charged exorbitant fees which it deducted from the tax refunds due to consumers. ...

"Consumers became aware of these unauthorized filings when they attempted to file their taxes through another tax preparation service and were told that the IRS had already received a federal tax return bearing their name and Social Security number."

Madigan says the complaints of unauthorized filing "were relayed to defendant Rodney Williams in January 2011".

Madigan claims that in November 2011, Williams, manager of defendant Simply Taxes, began advertising through fliers and in radio ads for "refund anticipation loans at Mo'Money Taxes locations through a program called 'Money on the Spot.' The 'Money on the Spot' program was developed by defendants Markey Granberry and Derrick Robinson, who instructed regional managers to use the program in their markets during the 2011-2012 tax season."

Madigan's complaint adds: "Mo'Money Taxes advertised that the cost of their services would be between $150 and $350.

"In fact, Mo'Money Taxes charged consumers between $480 and $550 to prepare and file their returns, and charged them additional fees totaling approximately $178 for processing the returns.

"As a result, consumers were typically charged over $700 in fees for preparing filing, and processing their tax return."

Madigan seeks an injunction barring the defendant from selling tax preparation services in Illinois, restitution and damages for fraud and deceptive trade.

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