Two men who operate Braselton Used Auto Sales are facing charges that they stole portions of customers’ tax refunds, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Richard K. Wilder and Vince Gillespie were both arrested by the sheriff’s office last week after deputies received numerous complaints that the duo stole their income tax refunds. Employees at a nearby bank also alerted deputies earlier this year to a possible scam.
Wilder has been charged with seven counts of theft by deception and one count of racketeering, according to Jackson County Jail records. His business partner, Gillespie, was charged with seven counts of party to theft by deception and one count of racketeering.
In incident reports dating back to earlier this year, customers of Braselton Used Auto Sales on Ga. Hwy. 53 have told deputies about Wilder allegedly cashing their income tax returns. Besides the used auto business, Wilder also does income tax preparation.
One woman told Jackson County deputies that Wilder filled her 2006 and 2010 income tax returns, but she never received any money. When she called the IRS, the woman said an agent told her she should have received $7,084. She later learned that her checked was cashed.
When the woman went to Braselton Used Auto Sales to demand her federal income tax refund, she said Gillespie told her that she could have a car on the lot. The woman refused to accept a car and demanded her money, according to an incident report.
At the time, Gillespie told a deputy that Wilder and the woman made an agreement, but both denied the agreement. The deputy was given a power-of-attorney letter allegedly signed by the woman in which she agreed to take a vehicle. The woman then called her attorney.
In February, two employees at Hometown Community Bank told deputies they suspected that Wilder was stealing money from his tax preparation customers.
Wilder had an account at the bank and its employees had received complaints from three customers, according to an incident report. The bank employees later discovered several “red flags” that led them to suspect Wilder was involved in a fraud case.
Wilder was allegedly depositing tax returns from his customers in an account, but he was writing them a check for amounts less than the initial returns, according to an incident report. Three of his customers told the bank they were unable to receive a copy of their tax returns.
At the time, a bank employee said she discovered 32 possible victims.
In another case, an Oakwood woman said she went to Braselton Used Auto Sales to pawn jewelry. She spoke with Wilder, who offered to re-file her income tax return for possibly an additional $300 return.
The woman handed Wilder her income tax return and he later called to say he could get her $2,900 on that year’s tax return, according to an incident report. She claimed Wilder later filed her 2011 tax return without her permission by using her 2010 information. He then gave her $2,000.
The woman said she didn’t give Wilder all of her tax information and she later learned from the IRS that $4,994 was deposited in his account at Hometown Community Bank, according to an incident report.
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