Erik Ketelaar, Wannabe GOP Bigwig, Under Fire from Clients of His Company Tio Sam Taxes
Lara's plight was neither unique nor the worst of the bunch.
One woman, who did not want her name published, claimed that Tio Sam owes her at least $6,000, for two different years' tax returns of about $3,000 each.
She said she'd done a couple of years' worth of taxes at once, and the checks were directed to a Tio Sam's address. She showed me a letter from the IRS, which suggested that one check was mailed in care of Tio Sam.
But she never got it. Currently, she's unemployed and just underwent an operation for which she owes money.
She also has three kids, no husband, and recently had to pawn her car to a title loan company.
"I need the money," she said through an interpreter. "I'm in a hard situation."
Enrique, a cook at a Phoenix restaurant with a wife and two children to support, says he saw Tio Sam ads on Univision and did his taxes through the company. Once again, his refund check was supposed to go to Tio Sam.
He said a Tio Sam employee told him the company's account was "frozen" because it was "receiving too much money."
Enrique said he's complained to the IRS, the state Attorney General's Office, and the Better Business Bureau.
"I just want something to be done," he told me, "so, next year, these people won't be able to hurt anybody else."
Those who read this column regularly know I'm not exactly a "consumer reports" kind of guy, but these complaints and the volume of them intrigued me because I'd seen Tio Sam Taxes owner Erik Ketelaar before.
Ketelaar, a 31-year-old CPA, has appeared on TV advertising a business seminar on July 24 featuring none other than Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom no one has ever mistaken for "Tio Sam."