They arrive in the mail looking like officials documents, but the papers are really at the heart of a scam. A company called Corporate Records Service used misleading mailings to trick thousand of small business owners into paying unnecessary fees.
"The forms these businesses were receiving looked legitimate they looked like a governmental document that was a requirement," says U.S. Postal Inspector Laura Carter.
For $125, CRS offered to fill out forms supposedly required by the state. The forms looked urgent and were written in legal language with a 'please respond by' marked in the corner.
"The scammers have gotten very creative and very good at mimicking the labels, the logos, the whole impression of it being government documents," says Director Of Consumer Protection Abby Kuzma.
The owners of CRS, Thomas and Steven Fata, are the subject of complaints in several states including Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin.
"Ordinarily, when you get a document that looks like a government document, you respond," says Kuzma. "We really need to let people know that people are scamming in this way."
"We always suggest to people, please check with out local attorney general's office or your local Better Business Bureau to always find out whether or not this is a legitimately required item," says Carter.
Postal inspectors say you should always check with your state's attorney general or your local Better Business Bureau to see if the mailing you've received is legitimate. Thomas and Steven Fata are awaiting trial and are the subject of a court order not to send deceptive mailings.
Viewers with disabilities can get assistance accessing this station's FCC Public Inspection File by contacting the station with the information listed below. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, 888-835-5322 (TTY), or email@example.com.