A Lewisville woman says she never received a $4,000 tax refund from last year after her tax preparer filed her return and then stopped communicating with her.
The preparer has a criminal record and currently has four warrants for her arrest, according to the Dallas County Sheriff’s office.
Teresa Strafford said she went to Invidia Tax Immigration & Consulting Group on Preston Road in North Dallas in April 2014 to do her taxes.
Strafford said she gave manager Nevada Alexander her financial paperwork.
"I get a text from her saying she needed one more documentation so I sent it over to her,” Strafford said. “Then I texted her a day or so later, and she says, 'I already filed.' And I was like, 'Oh, don't I have to sign something?' She's like, 'No, it's taken care of.'"
But in the weeks and months that followed, nobody at the company would give her a copy of her own tax return.
"It was excuse after excuse after excuse,” Strafford said.
She later contacted the IRS and was shocked to learn they had already issued her a refund for $4,000.
"I was like, 'I didn't get it,’” she said. “They were like, 'It was wired to your account.' I'm like, 'No it hasn't.'"
State records show Invidia was founded by Alexander.
We showed Strafford a mugshot of Alexander from the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.
"Wow. Yeah. She looked a little different, a lot more cleaned up,” Strafford said. “But that's her.”
Alexander’s criminal record dates to at least 2006.
In fact, at the very time Strafford says Alexander was doing her taxes, she had four warrants for her arrest, including forgery and making false statements, according to the sheriff’s office.
Police have been unable to find her to arrest her, said Raul Reyna, a spokesman for the Dallas County Sheriff’s office.
Strafford said she had no way of knowing.
Texas and most states do not license or regulate paid tax preparers.
The IRS does require preparers to register for a number, known as a PTIN. Customers can ask preparers if they have such a number, but critics point out even such a system is no guarantee against fraud.
The IRS also encourages customers to promptly report any suspicious activity.
Strafford said she's still trying to get her $4,000 tax refund and isn't even certain it's the proper amount because she doesn't know if her taxes were filed properly.
"Now I think twice,” she said. “It's made me very leery of everybody. And I've never been like that. I've been open and friendly and trustworthy."