Reading Latino business owners learn to avoid fraud

Author: , Reporter
Published: Feb 28 2013 11:53:22 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 01 2013 07:13:28 AM EST
READING, Pa. -

Berks County's top cop said Latino business owners in Reading are being targeted by tax frauds. Thursday, they learned how to spot the fraud and to report it.

The district attorney, John Adams, spoke at a seminar held by Kutztown University's Latino Business Resource Center for new business owners.

Adams discussed how Reading is one of the centers of a federal tax fraud scheme where people are stealing social security numbers from Puerto Rican citizens and creating fake W2 forms.

"When you think tax fraud you tend to think of people who are maybe just fudging the numbers a little bit," said Jaime Perez, Chairman of the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce, "But, I don't think we're prepared for the level this is happening within this community and the problem it really is."

Adams spoke with members of the Latino community about a tax fraud scheme that is prevalent in Reading.

"Tax returns are being filed utilizing social security numbers for people who reside in Puerto Rico," said Adams.

He said speaking with the business community increases the chances of catching the criminals who are collecting multiple IRS checks illegally.

"We need to educate the cash checking businesses, the multi-service agencies that exist in the city," said Adams, "They may be actually innocent victims of this type of activity but if we can educate them."

Jonel Ruiz with the Community First Fund, which lends money to small businesses said Adam's information was useful.

"I thought it was important to educate myself on what are some of the things that small businesses are being impacted with, with regard to fraud. So, we can better help them deter or prevent those things happening to them," said Ruiz.

The Latino Chamber of Commerce said if this tax fraud scheme is happening on an organized scale it can affect the entire business community.

"Businesses can close over activities like this. It's just not conducive to good commerce. That's our main interest here," said Perez.

The Kutztown Latino Business Resource Center will offer a different seminar for new entrepreneurs in March about free trade with Columbia.