April 10, 2007, - 3:12 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
It’s tax-filing season. Did Farrukh Sohail do your taxes?
If you’re one of the many Americans who hired someone at one of his 125 Jackson-Hewitt franchises around the nation, you might have reason to worry. And reason to wonder where the money you paid his Jackson-Hewitt franchises to do your taxes actually went.
Tax returns prepared at Pakistani-born Sohail’s J-H franchises bilked the federal government out of $70 million in phony tax deductions and other schemes.
The feds raided and shut down most of Sohail’s franchises in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, and Raleigh, North Carolina. And they filed suit against Sohail and some of his key managers and operators. Not surprisingly, of the 55 branches of Jackson-Hewitt shut-down, the names of Sohail’s Detroit-based managers named in a federal suit are mostly Muslim, like Sohail, himself:
In Detroit, the franchises targeted are run by So Far Inc. Local owners and managers named are Maquit Hasnie, Tracey Pawczuk, Nafees Hasnie, Anita Alidino and Sohail Ali. The suit says the offices filed returns claiming refunds based on phony W-2s and used fabricated business expenses for deductions.
The offices also are charged with overlooking hundreds of bogus W-2s and turning a blind eye to organized W-2 fraud.
In addition, preparers solicited kickbacks for inflated refund claims and charged fees to provide Social Security numbers filers could use as dependents to get larger refunds, the suit claims.
The offices also are accused of engaging in “massive fraud” related to the earned income credit. The complaint says 67 percent of returns from So Far/Jackson Hewitt claimed the credit, three times the 22 percent Michigan average.
So, where did Sohail send his profits? Where did his managers send the all-cash “kickbacks”? Was some of the money “sent back home” to Pakistan or elsewhere in the Islamic world to finance jihadist activities? We may never know.
But one thing we do know is that Sohail pulled-off quite a tax-scam jihad against the U.S. government before he got caught. More from AP from last week:
The government said Tuesday it is trying to shut down more than 125 Jackson Hewitt tax preparation stores in four states for systematic “tax-fraud schemes.”
The Justice Department accuses the franchises of bilking the government out of more than $70 million through fraudulent practices such as using phony W-2 forms, bogus deductions and fuel tax credits and false claims regarding the earned income tax credit.
Jackson Hewitt Tax Services Inc. is the nation’s second largest tax preparer. The franchises were either totally or partially owned by Farrukh Sohail, the Justice Department said, and involved “a pervasive and massive series of tax-fraud schemes,” according to court filings.
Sohail and other defendants “created, directed, fostered, and maintained a business environment” at the Jackson Hewitt franchises “in which fraudulent tax return preparation is encouraged and flourishes,” according to court documents.
Employees were encouraged to ignore telltale signs of fraudulent information and to file claims even when it was obvious customers were using fake W-2 forms or false deductions.
A sample of returns prepared by franchises connected to Sohail found 31 percent contained false information such as phony earned income tax credit claims, bogus deductions and fraudulent W-2 forms.
The suits, filed in federal courts in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Raleigh, N.C., also allege that managers and employees at the Jackson Hewitt franchises took kickbacks for filing fraudulent returns.
Reader John has been following the story, which raised red flags in his mind, too:
I was curious if you are following the story of the 125 Jackson Hewitt franchises being investigated by the Justice Department for “a pervasive and massive series of tax-fraud schemes.” The loss to the U.S. government is currently estimated at $70 million. The franchises were owned by Farrukh Sohail (originally from Pakistan). Many of them are in the Detroit area. The operators of the Detroit-area franchises include several with obviously Muslim names. It makes you wonder how much of the fraudulent profits was sent overseas.
So did Farrukh Sohail do your taxes? And if so, where did the money you paid him go? We already know he committed economic tax-fraud jihad against the U.S. What would stop him from also committing the physical kind of jihad, overseas (or even here)?
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