For nearly a year, Araceli Flores has been trying to find out what happened to her 2013 tax refund.
It's more than $1,200 she says she never got.
Araceli was one of several clients of Tio Sam Taxes who let me know their 2013 tax refunds were supposed to have been deposited into the business' bank account last tax season.
The company would take their cut, and send the customer the rest.
But Araceli and other clients say that never happened.
Last year in an email to the Let Joe Know team, Tio Sam owner Erik Ketelaar blamed employees and managers for not performing their "fiduciary duty."
Ketelaar wrote that he would work diligently to make sure "refunds are issued as per the client contract.”
Since then, all six Tio Sam Valley locations have closed and Araceli says she never got her money.
But we recently found notes on an old Tio Sam location, directing people to business called Patriot Taxes.
We found one of the Patriot Tax locations is housed in an old Tio Sam office. And the new company's owner is Pavel Rosas.
He's the one Araceli says returned her messages, made excuses and even signed a promissory note to deliver money that never came.
Rosas was also a partner in Tio Sam.
So why open another tax business in the same place?
Rosas admits it looks suspicious but says he wanted to help.
"Even before tax season we were calling people to tell them, 'hey (sic) go to this place we're gonna try to help you out with a friend of ours. We're gonna see what we can do to trace your money,'" said Rosas.
He says he and some other former Tio Sam employees are helping former clients prepare information packets to send off to the Internal Revenue Service.
About last year's refunds, he says he doesn't know where that money went.
"I had no control over the account," said Rosas.
He says his job was to bring in clients, and Ketelaar handled the money because he was a Certified Public Accountant.
Rosas estimates between 50 and 100 people did not get their refunds and says when he found that out he demanded answers of Ketelaar.
"I'm like, 'dude what's going on?'" said Rosas."We need to pay all these clients. They're knocking on my door; I see them on the streets."
We wanted to talk to Ketelaar about the status of the client refunds, and found him again outside a different north Scottsdale accounting firm.
This time he ran to his car without answering any questions.
As for Rosas, he says he started Patriot Taxes to help, not hurt but he says he can't do it all for free.
"It's mostly like a donation because obviously we have electricity with our overhead and employees to pay," said Rosas.
He says he asks for $100 up front and $100 if and when the clients get their money from the IRS.
The IRS will not confirm whether they are investigating what happened at Tio Sam but some former employees tell us they've been contacted by the agency.
Including Rosas, who says he wants to clear his name.
"I lost people that work with me, my aunt…two of my aunts don't talk to me till now," says Rosas.
Araceli says she won't stop until she gets her money.
"I don't give up very easily and I'll be there till the end," says Araceli.
Rosas says he'll close up Patriot Taxes on April 15 but will continue to help former Tio Sam clients to deal with the IRS.
If you need my help, call the Assistance League of Phoenix volunteers at 1-855-323-1515.
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