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LBSA Lake Worth, Fla., man who was once part of the former LBS tax chain accused of systematically preparing phony returns, has been barred from preparing federal tax returns. Wilfrid Antoine agreed to a preliminary injunction to shutter his seven stores in Florida and to disgorge $100,000 after being accused of continuing the same business practices followed by LBS in targeting low-income customers.

Antoine was a franchisee of LBS Tax Services, which had as many as 263 tax stores in the South. However,the government successfully sued to shut the company down in 2014. Antoine and several other former franchisees continued to operate tax preparation businesses. In this case, his seven LBS stores  began operating as AWA Tax Services in 2014. The Department of Justice said the method of operation was the same.

LBS was accused of systematically using fraudulent means to boost clients' refunds to drive tax preparation fees higher. It sent staffers to malls to recruit clients and had scripts designed to persuade prospects that LBS could dramatically increase their refunds.

Similarly, the DOJ said the AWA stores made bogus claims of entitlements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and fuel credit, claimed false filing statuses for clients, fabricated business expense and deductions and Schedule A deductions and charged deceptive and unconscionable fees.

Since September 2014, the United States has filed nine similar lawsuits against Walner Gachette, the former LBS Tax Services franchisor and 12 former LBS franchisees and managers, many of whom rebranded and have continued to operate tax preparation business

Among those formerly associated with LBS were Jean Demesmin, Milot Odne, Tonya Chambers, Demetrius Scott, Kerny Pierre-Louis, Jehoakim Victor and Lauri Rodriguez who have agreed to be barred from preparing returns while Douglas Mesadieu has also been barred. A motion to bar Jason Stinson is pending.

The U.S. has also sued Kenneth Aikens, who worked for Christopher Lawrence as a preparer and manager before Aikens assumed ownership of several tax stores. The government alleges that both men took steps to mask their ownership of the businesses.

Last modified on Thursday, 17 November 2016
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