The Jackson County Sheriff's Department has arrested Richard K. Wilder, 43, of Braselton, on charges he stole portions of customers' tax refunds.
Wilder operates a tax preparation business and Braselton Used Auto Sales on Highway 53 in Braselton.
Police charged Wilder Tuesday with seven counts of theft by deception and one count of RICO. His business partner, Vince Gillespie, 44, turned himself in Wednesday and is facing the same charges.
Police said Wilder prepared customers' tax returns and had customers' refunds deposited into an account, but only returned a portion to his customers.
According to a police incident report, he may have kept portions of tax refunds belonging to 32 customers.
Customer Stephanie Haff told CBS Atlanta News that Wilder stole her entire tax refund of $7,084.00.
"I'm a mother of three. I'm a single mother. For him to take every dime," Haff said.
She is one several customers who filed a police report on Wilder.
"I was told the money was on hold through the IRS, and he would call as soon as it got mailed to him," Haff said. "The IRS told me he cashed my check. They sent me a copy of the canceled check."
CBS Atlanta News has been investigating Wilder for customer complaints filed against his used auto dealership.
Josh Roberts, 19, of Douglas County, said he purchased a 1998 Ford F150 from Wilder earlier this year but it failed to pass inspection. Roberts claims Wilder gave him a fraudulent second temporary tag so he could continue driving the truck since he couldn't register it.
"The second tag said I had a convertible, not an F150. That's how he's getting around the law. He's changing the VIN number or the make or model," Roberts said.
Another customer, Dave Pirkle, said Wilder gave him three temporary tags while they argued over fixing his Chevrolet Aveo so it could pass inspection.
"The internet is a tool for him to get [customers] and suck them in and they think they're getting help and in reality they're getting the shaft," Pirkle said.
A CBS Atlanta investigation found Wilder is no stranger to posing for mug shots. Wilder was charged with forgery and odometer fraud in 2009 and pleaded guilty to a count of forgery. Wilder was also nabbed in 2010 for stealing satellite TV services and offering devices that unscramble satellite TV signals.
Wilder is currently on probation for those charges in Gwinnett County.
Wilder and Gillespie are locked up in the Jackson County Jail.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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