A Hapeville city councilwoman who’s already charged with defrauding her family and under criminal investigation for inflating tax refunds, is now facing new questions after a man who tried to help her out of financial trouble said she ripped him off, too.
“How the hell can you do this to people, ruin their lives? I mean, what she has done to people is amazing,” said Kerry Dusek, who first met Ruth Barr a few years ago when she began preparing his tax returns.
He said within a year, Barr asked him for the first of many loans.
“She usually ran out of money, supposedly, several months before the tax season,” said Dusek.
He said Barr would swipe his credit cards at her business, formerly known as B&B Accounting and Tax Service, and then he’d sign the receipts.
She would sign IOU’s promising to pay it back at tax time, plus a few thousand dollars extra for Dusek’s trouble.
“It worked fine, there was no problems,” said Dusek, describing the first two years of transactions.
But this year, March 31 came and went without his payout.
Now, his four credit cards are racking up hundreds of dollars a month in interest.
“I’m freaking out, because I don’t know how much longer I can keep it up,” said Dusek, “I’ve been working so hard trying to keep myself afloat.”
Receipts for four transactions show Barr rang up $36,750 in August and October of 2015.
Dusek said Barr has only repaid a handful of small amounts toward those bills, and now he’s accruing hundreds of dollars in interest each month.
“You’re asking for a true disaster, because if they don’t pay you, not only do you not get the money back, but you still owe all the money,” said Channel 2 Consumer Adviser Clark Howard.
Howard warns against loaning anyone money, especially on your credit cards.
But he said the arrangement would not be considered criminal unless a prosecutor could prove Barr never intended to pay the money back.
“It is not any kind of credit card fraud, what they were doing, because these were willing adults, he was willing to allow his card to be run,” said Howard.
Dusek tried to file a case, but it was dismissed on a paperwork technicality. He’s considering filing again to try to get some of his money back.
“It was my tax accountant. If you can’t trust a tax accountant, who can you trust?” said Dusek.
But a Channel 2 Action News-Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation earlier this year found Barr is not actually an accountant, she’s a tax preparer, with an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau and a trail of customers facing audits.
She also has a $200,000 civil fraud judgment for one investment scheme, and an indictment in Gwinnett County for another.
Yet she’s managed to remain on Hapeville’s city council.
“I was stupid and I wasn’t thinking and I was trying to help her out,” said Dusek, “It’s a scam, the whole thing is a scam.”
Ruth Barr’s attorney did not return multiple calls for comment.