Better Call Behnken: Customer still waiting on refund 1 year later

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Jose Martinez has been waiting for his tax refund for a year.

The Tampa man learned he’ll only be able to access the money through his tax preparer, and that man wants to take a big chunk of it.

“This was the first year I was to ever get a tax refund, and I really need the money to pay bills,” Martinez said.

A statement from the IRS shows Martinez was supposed to receive $2,650, but he hasn’t received a dime. So, he turned to Better Call Behnken for answers.

Martinez’ tax return saga began last year when he hired GGM Financial Services on Nebraska Avenue to file his taxes. Martinez was behind on payments and needed to file three years’ worth of taxes. He knew he’d owe some taxes from a previous year, but even with that, his refund was $2,600.

He got nothing, then he said he got the run around from GGM’s Gregory Marcellus.

“He called me and said, ‘Oh, Jose, I haven’t received your check, but I received my part. They already paid me, so I don’t know where your money’s at,” Martinez recalled.

Martinez tells me GGM owner Gregory Marcellus assured him that his money would be more secure with a third-party bank than letting the IRS send it to his mailbox. So secure, in fact, that Jose hasn’t seen one cent.

“It didn’t just disappear,” Lopez said. “It’s in somebody’s account. Somebody knows where it’s at. And that’s all we want. We want an explanation,” said his fiancé, Sol Lopez.

We were able to trace Martinez’ money to TPG, a bank in California that is designed to receive tax refunds, pay the tax preparers and then give the rest to taxpayers like Martinez. Then we went back to GGM, looking for Marcellus.

We saw him pull up and walk inside, but the door was still locked. He did answer the phone, but denied being at work, saying we must have seen his “twin” or his “ghost.”

Marcellus said he’d sign off on the money but now claims he was never paid and wants Jose to authorize $800 (for three years of tax returns) from the funds before he will give the bank the go-ahead.

So, we called the bank and a spokesman said he will look into what happened to the money and how Jose can get it back.

Meanwhile, several state agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office, are reviewing the situation.

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