Probe: June 13, 2001

June 13, 2001

QUESTION: My aunt had her 1999 income tax return done last year at Tax Service Sales in Calexico. She expected a return of $2,312. When she went to pick up her return, they told her the refund never arrived.

She is an older woman who does not speak much English, so she didn't pursue it. She finally told us and we looked into it.

The Internal Revenue Service said my aunt's tax refund was deposited in a Tax Service Sales account on March 10, 2000.

At Tax Service Sales we were told one preparer had taken 35 checks and police were investigating. When we called the District Attorney's Office we learned there was a case against the woman involved.


Later we heard the case was a different matter, a forgery case, that had been settled when the woman agreed to make restitution.

Can you find the owner of the company and see what he will do? My aunt needs her money. — Angry Niece, Calexico

As you might expect, the owner doesn't want to do anything. He says the tax preparer, not him, is responsible for the missing refunds.

Cloyd Wiscombe, reached at a San Diego phone number, said 10, not 35, refunds are missing, and he estimated they add up to about $20,000.

Calexico police and the Internal Revenue Service are investigating, according to Wiscombe.

"IRS agents interviewed members of my staff," he said.

However, victims have complained but have not filed complaints, Wiscombe said. Without complaining victims, there is no crime.

We are not sure he's right about that. It's possible the federal government might be a victim since federal money was intercepted before it reached the intended recipient.

Assistant District Attorney Joe Beard said he intends to investigate this case and discuss it with federal law enforcement.

"There must have been some federal laws broken," Beard said.

By the way, Wiscombe said a tax preparer in his Yuma office diverted tax refunds to himself a few years ago. That employee ended up spending time in jail, Wiscombe said.

QUESTION: I have phone calls on my telephone bill I didn't make. The phone company will not take them off.

Do you know if Pacific Bell has a live human I can talk to? — Sick of Machines, El Centro

If you want a phone number that will be answered by a live voice, saying, "Pacific Bell, Mrs. Jones speaking," the answer is no.

But PacBell spokesman Brian Brokowski gave us a number, (800) 310-2355, that he claims can get you in touch with a live human in about 30 seconds.

You're going to have to go through all the machines, he said, but if you answer all the questions, you'll get a human.

Frankly, we don't believe you can get through on an 800 number to a human with enough authority to solve a problem in less than a full morning. But try it and let us know how it turns out!

QUESTION: A man came to my house and told me that after I die, anybody can take my house. I went to the county Recorder's Office and put my house in my daughter's name. Can anybody take my house when I die? — Homeowner, Brawley

Put your mind at ease. Nobody can take your house unless he has a lien or mortgage on it.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles