An H&R Block manager in Southern California has been arrested for using the identities of his former tax preparation clients in an identity theft scheme.
Damon Charles Dubose, 38, of North Hills, Calif., was arrested Thursday by special agents with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division after a criminal complaint was filed against him.
Dubose, working as a manager for an H&R Block office in Van Nuys, allegedly obtained personal identifying information of past customers. He prepared bogus tax returns in their names designed to obtain tax refunds and credits, according to prosecutors, and then used H&R Block Emerald Cards to withdraw the fraudulently obtained refunds from automated teller machines.
Dubose declined to comment when reached by phone. H&R Block said it is helping with the investigation.
"H&R Block takes this matter very seriously," said H&R Block spokesman Gene King. "This was an isolated incident and we are cooperating fully with authorities on the investigation of a former employee. The situation involves a small number of clients who have been contacted and informed of the steps the company is taking to help them and correct the situation."
Shortly before midnight on February 12, Dubose was seen by a patrolman loitering near the ATMs of three banks, wearing pantyhose over his face as well as beanies and a scarf.
Inside Dubose’s vehicle, the officer found six envelopes with a name and partial Social Security number handwritten on the outside, and an H&R Block Emerald Card on the inside. The Emerald Cards allow H&R Block customers to access their tax refunds electronically like a debit card.
Dubose’s vehicle also contained approximately $2,960 in cash and a printout of the dates of birth and Social Security numbers matching the handwritten information on the envelopes. Dubose claimed that the information was for his tax clients and he was authorized to make withdrawals on their behalf.
When law enforcement authorities searched the home of Dubose’s girlfriend, they found $6,900 in cash, along with six H&R Block Emerald Cards, and the personal identifying information of more individuals.
Three taxpayers whose identifying information Dubose possessed were contacted by law enforcement. All of them indicated that Dubose was not authorized to make withdrawals on their behalf or possess their personal identifying information.
According to the complaint, Dubose allegedly wired the electronically filed fraudulent tax returns from Van Nuys, Calif. to Tennessee and West Virginia.
Following Thursday’s appearance in court, Dubose was released on bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 30.