Attorney General Edward Manibusan is warning CNMI consumers and small business owners against companies posing as government agencies sending out deceptive solicitation letters targeting newly registered business owners, demanding for payment of documents that are either free or available for a lower price from the legitimate state and federal agencies.
Manibusan advises businesses to take caution before sending any money to any company that demands payment for paperwork through mail. He reminds consumers the importance of verifying the validity of such letters and their businesses.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office filed consumer protection lawsuits against two companies, CA Certificate Service, LLC and Labor Poster Compliance LLC, and their owners, for sending more than 210,000 deceptive letters to small businesses that appear to originate from the government and demand payment for a “Certificate of Status” or a workplace poster that are actually available from the government free of charge or a fraction of the monetary demand. These letters unlawfully duped small business owners into making unnecessary payments to these fraudulent companies.
How these scams work
Shortly after registering for a new business, the fraudulent company would mail a letter to the new business owner. The letter and envelope would imitate official government mail and create a false sense of urgency that the business owner is pressured into completing a form included in the letter as well as submitting monetary payment.
If you find that you’ve received a suspicious letter, remain vigilant by researching and verifying the letter to ensure that you will not fall victim to this scam. This scam focuses on the vulnerability of new business owners and capitalizes on the fear of not completing said fraudulent forms and payments.
Always take extra precaution when responding to mail, and verify the source of any letter, especially those soliciting monetary payment. The Office of the Attorney General urges the public to report the receipt of a deceptive solicitation letter to the Office of the Consumer Counsel.
Complaint forms may be obtained at www.cnmioag.org under the Consumer Protection section or in person at the Civil Division on Capital Hill from 7:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday, or via email by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints may be hand delivered to the Civil Division on Capital Hill or submitted via email. (OAG)