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Tax refund promises might be scams. Here's how to check preparer

Ernest Sumpter, 68, and Rosaline Johnson, 64, are neighbors in a senior complex in Detroit and say a woman went door-to-door to promote her $50 tax preparation services and ultimately rip off seniors.

Ernest Sumpter, 68, tells a tax-time tale that should give anyone pause before handing over a Social Security number and other information to a stranger who offers a deal on doing your taxes.

Sumpter lives in a seniors apartment complex in Detroit not far from Wayne State University where a woman essentially went door-to-door offering to prepare tax returns. 

“She was charging the seniors $50 to do their taxes,” Sumpter said. 

The woman, who was in her 40s, dressed well, drove a nice car and looked professional. She had built up a friendship with another tenant in the building, a relationship that ultimately opened doors for her.

“She got close to one of the seniors so she could vouch for her,” said Sumpter, who retired after working at a local manufacturing plant that made auto parts. 

Since the woman seemed genuine and other people liked her, Sumpter paid $50 for filing his 2017 state income tax return to get a state refund based on the Home Heating Credit and the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit.

All seemed to work out OK.

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