Wed., 8:30am: Tax preparer accused of identy theft

LISBON – A local tax preparer is suspected of using the identity of 12 customers to obtain loans based on their income tax refunds.

Lisbon Police Detective Shar Daub said the focus of her investigation is Jennifer McCarty, 30, Forest Street, Lisbon, who worked at the Lisbon office of H&R Block for the past seven years until fired recently.

Daub said her investigation began on Jan. 15 when the police department was contacted by Rebecca Tami, 31, of Chestnut Street, after she went to the H&R office to obtain an advance on her tax refund under the company’s Emerald Advance Line of Credit program. Tami was surprised to learn an advance had already been obtained by someone using her private information.

Daub said the investigation determined the person responsible was McCarty, who worked at the office as a tax preparer, and that Tami was one of 12 H&R customers allegedly victimized by McCarty in this manner.

“She worked down there for seven years and did their taxes, which is how she had access to their private information,” Daub said of McCarty, who is supposedly continuing to solicit business from people whose taxes she prepared while working for H&R.

McCarty could not be reached for comment.

The following is the list of the other alleged victims: Courtney Zimmerman, Heather Houlette, William Mullet, Christy Yarbrough, Karisa Boone, Courtney Wilkinson, Jennifer Clark, Tonya Mullet, Kimberly Hobbs, Albert Hobbs,and Claudine Carroll.

Daub said the alleged crimes occurred between late November and when McCarty was fired on Jan. 17, and the fraudulently obtained loans totaled $6,957. She said H&R is out the money, not the individuals, and the money has not been repaid.

The evidence has been turned over to the Columbiana County prosecutor’s office for possible indictment by the county grand jury.