by Jay Freeborne , Enrolled Agent
February 21, 2013

On January 29, 2013, the judge finalized the case against American Tax Relief and it's owner Alexander Seung Hahn, his wife and parents (in-laws?) . The defendants agreed to pay what appears to be their entire remaining assets of $15 million to settle a $100 million judgement. It took a long time -- they were shut down in September 2010 -- American Tax Relief Shutdown by FTC. But justice was finally served.

This should serve as a warning to any existing tax resolution company that continues to run a sales-driven and "closer" driven organization and not a "service" and customer focused business. And I can tell you right now: there are numerous companies still operating like American Tax Relief did in the U.S. and Southern California. American Tax Relief's salespeople had to go somewhere? LIKE HERE MAYBE? :)

The order made in the U.S. District Court in Central California stated that American Tax Relief "engaged in deceptive practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act by misrepresenting that it had significantly reduced the tax debts of thousands of people." Both Hahn and his wife Joo Hyun Park were accused as liable and the parents (in law's) assets were also ordered to pay a separate judgement issued by the court. The defendants signed off on the order -- agreeing that it "resolve(d) all remaining claims against them." A receiver - Thomas A. Seaman of Thomas Seaman Company - was appointed. If you are a victim of American Tax Relief-- the receiver info is here: http://atrreceivership.com/faqs.html

Furthermore, this order permanently bans Hahn from any kind of TELEMARKETING or"debt relief service" business.

It looks like Hahn will be paying his settlement thru $2.5 million in company and personal accounts and another $3 million that was seized earlier. He'll also have to say goodbye to his 2005 Ferrari, $4 million Beverly Hills home, gold, jewelry and other miscellaneous accounts.

Two other judgements were placed against his parents who received ill-gotten gains from American Tax Relief -- an $18 million judgement and $595,000. Apparently $5 million was already seized from them and other accounts will have to be dispersed.

Besides settling the $100 million judgement for $15 million - the Hahn family also has until the end of June to vacate their Beverly Hills property before it is sold.

Here's a timeline on American Tax Relief - 2000 to 2010:

Opened in early 2000. Relied on a combination of mass mailings and TV advertising. Here's one of their pretty slick tv ads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEe22fBQgsc

In the first couple years, ex-employees told me that a clear line was drawn between the customer service department and the sales department. Mr. Hahn did NOT want the two to communicate. When the two challenged him, Mr. Hahn said " I wear the pants around here!" Is there any surprise that this system was unsustainable and the customers ultimately the ones to suffer?

By about 2006, their BBB record was a pollution site -- there should have been a grade below "F" for their hundreds of complaints-- they were listed in the top ten worst companies by the Southern California BBB. Even someone in New York City's government was considering action against ATR.

In Sept. 2010 -- they were shutdown: ATR Shutdown by FTC

The receivership page for their case is ATR receivership page

The final order is here: Stipulated Final Order - Signed by Court - Jan 29, 2013

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