Crime

Officials: Department of Revenue lost $2 million in returns from scam

The Georgia Department of Revenue lost more than $2 million after the owners of the Macon Road Tax Time used inaccurate tax forms to pad their customers' returns, a department agent said Monday during a press conference.

Department of Revenue Chief Josh Waites said Ken Degourville and his wife, Lakeisha Degourville, filed about 2,000 faulty tax returns over three years. The department's 6-month long investigation culminated Monday morning when agents raided the 3551 Macon Road business and the couple's Midland home. Columbus police and District Attorney's Office representatives assisted during the raid.

"We suspect that the suspects in this case would take (customers') documents and add documents to it to increase the person's refund amount," Waites said. "They would create businesses that the people didn't own. They would forge W-2s and withholdings to make it look like they withheld more money than they actually had."

Waites said other Columbus businesses may have been involved in the scam, but declined to say how many the department is investigating. He says the operation is the largest tax fraud case in Columbus in recent memory.

"This really affects every person in Georgia, so it makes me happy when we can do this," Waites said.

Chief District Attorney Al Whitaker said the Degourvilles were arrested at their home during the raid, which took place around 10 a.m. They are charged with felony counts of identity fraud, computer forgery, theft by taking, theft by deception and forgery in the first degree. The couple is expected to receive a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court Friday at 8:30 a.m.

Whitaker said Degourville was also arrested in December 2012 for driving under the influence, fleeing or eluding police and other misdemeanor offenses. The exact details of that case were not available.

Whitaker said the District Attorney's Office has worked with the department to provide information about the Degourvilles and the types of charges that might apply in this case.

"It was brought to our attention around April or May as to what additional facts or information we might need to prosecute this case," Whitaker said.

Though Waites said the department is going to attempt to recover the money lost by the forged returns, he anticipates no charges against individuals who received more than they were owed.

"We're going to go through and calculate the amount of money the tax payers should have received, and if they received more than that we're going to ask that they pay that money back," Waites said.

Waites said tax payers who use similar businesses should ask for a copy of their returns to make sure that the business is not inflating their returns.

"Tax time is coming up, so definitely go to someone that's reputable," Waites said. "If you have any questions, there's a regional office in Columbus that you can contact."

Anyone with information about similar scams can contact the Georgia Department of Revenue at (404) 417-7242.

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