Tax preparer steals identity, money

CLAYTON The alert stems from a Johnston County woman's arrest.

Police say a tax preparer manipulated paperwork and stole thousands from clients.

Seven people who used a liberty tax location on US-70 in Clayton found out the hard way that there is no easy way to protect your personal information.

A tax preparer is charged with forging tax forms. Police say the 23-year-old spent about $7,500 before getting caught.

Authorities say Angela White used the alias Angela Chigo-Chiguila when she applied for the job so her background check came up clean. She was employed at Liberty from January 14, 2009 to March 13.

"They were supposed to have a check refund," said Jason Barnes with the Clayton Police Department. "And whenever they went in they noticed that the check wasn't in so they did a little bit of digging and when they did they saw where it was changed from a check refund to a debit card refund."

Clayton police say it could happen to anyone.

"It can definitely happen anytime and anywhere," Barnes said.

But experts say you can help protect yourself by:

  • Keeping a paper trail
  • Making sure your tax preparer signs your return and provides you with a copy for your records
  • Never sign a blank tax form
  • Checking to see if your tax preparers have a clean history with the better business bureau
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions

"You want to make sure whoever does your taxes has been in business for a long time themselves," said James Hardi with ABS Tax Service. "That they have a good reputation, you can ask for references."

The owner of the Liberty Tax location says he has personally paid back each of the victims.

"We are pursuing this as aggressively as possible and taking appropriate steps to protect our customers and ensure it does not happen again," the owner said.

White is being held in the Johnston County Jail under $500,000 bond.

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