RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The man at the center of a local tax service, now under investigation, comes forward after his office is shutdown.
The local pastor at the center of this case says it's all a big mistake. He says everything he's doing is legal, but many people say they were promised stimulus checks after handing over their Social Security Numbers.
"We don't need an occupational license to be here for non-profit." Pastor Orpha Maurival says he and his office staff are helping low income people file their taxes. "You sit here before a tax professional, they see you, process it, and send it to the IRS nothing fraudulent about it."
But many people have told us they left this office thinking they would be returning in a couple weeks to pick up a stimulus check. Since there's no stimulus money this year, we went to check it out.
We interviewed a local woman who claims she was a victim. She says she handed over her Social Security Number, even though, she hasn't worked in 19 months. "If you don't receive any income, or you haven't filed your taxes, they're gonna tell you that you qualify for $550," she said.
Riviera Beach Police started getting the same type of complaints. "They were coming back in 10 days to have a stimulus refund in the form of a debit card that they would be able to use," said Rose Anne Brown.
A church member nearby tells us. They've been watching people line up outside the building for days. "I've seen about 300 to 400 people thinking they are getting free money," said Rubin Anderson, Baptist Missionary Church. "I've seen people in despair, hungry for jobs. When you offer something like that, everyone's going to get a part of that."
So what was really going on behind closed doors? Amazing Tax wouldn't let our cameras in when we first broke the story. The pastor told us he knew nothing about the handwritten signs on the wall with restrictions to be eligible for something. But. eligible for what? We never found out.
We did some more searching online. "Channel 12 [also Fox 29] went to our Web site, and it wasn't working, and this is a false statement, because our site is working."
He's right. The site, Amazingtax.net is up and running -- now. When we did the story Tuesday. There was no such site.
The I-Team checked further. We found the domain name was just registered Wednesday meaning the site was just created. "No fraud, simple taxes. I'm a good citizen, a pastor, I've been helping people for 10 years."
So is Amazing Tax allowed to be operating? Riviera Beach Police say not until they get a license to do business in the city.
In the meantime, the police department will be investigating the allegations from people who think they may have been taken advantage of.