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Annual Business Reports fraud
They arrive in the mail looking like official government documents but they're really part of a scam. The form looks very similar to the real Annual Report form that is required to be filed each year for small businesses. It has a section where you list the shareholders and corporate offices. It also even comes in a green official looking envelope. It states the $125 fee must be paid by a certain date. The U.S Postal Inspector says its a big scam. We showed the form to many people and asked them if they thought it looked real. They said, "Yea it looks real." and "It looks like it's fairly legit to me."
The forms look believable but the U.S Postal Inspector said they are from a company called Corporate Records Services. They say it's a fraudulent company using misleading mailings to trick thousands of small business owners into paying unnecessary fees. Laura Carter, a U.S Postal Inspector said, "The forms these businesses were receiving looked legitimate they looked like a governmental document that was a requirement."
For $125.00, C.R.S offered to fill out forms supposedly "required" by the state. The forms looked urgent-written in legal language with a "please respond by" mark in the corner. Abby Kuzma, the director of Consumer Protection said "The scammers have gotten very creative and very good at mimicking the labels, the logos, the whole impression of it being government documents."
The owners of C.R.S, Thomas and Steven Fata are the subject of complaints in more than 10 states.They are awaiting trial and are the subject of a court order not to send deceptive mailings.
Kuzma said, "Ordinarily, when you get a document that looks like a government document, you respond. We really need to let people know that people are scamming in this way."
A good thing to remember is in Florida, all annual reports are done online, so it's a big red flag if you do get a letter like this. Unfortunately that's not stopping fraudulent companies from mailing out other types of required forms.
If you get something in the mail that looks like its from the government but you aren't sure, it's a good idea to check with the Attorney General or your local Better Business Bureau to see if the mailing you've received is legit.