Scam Targets Small Businesses, State Says it's Legal
By: Robert Bumsted
Some small business owners in Rhode Island are being scammed out of their hard-earned cash, but the state says it can't do much about it.
For the past few years, state officials say they have received complaints about a company calling itself the "Rhode Island Corporate compliance Business Services Division." The company sends out official-looking notices to business owners warning them about state record-keeping laws.
The letter says, for a $125 fee, corporate records will be "processed." The header on the form has an official-looking seal and an agency "identification number." The return address on the form points to a mailbox at a UPS Store in Downtown Providence.
But the State of Rhode Island says there isn't much it can do.
"They've done everything they can to not break the law," says Secretary of State Ralph Mollis. "We've been urging businesses for the past nine months not to respond to this."
Mollis says it's all in the fine print: at the bottom of the page, there is a disclaimer saying that the service has not been "endorsed or approved by any government agency." The seal at the top isn't an "official" state seal.
The Secretary of State's office and the state Attorney General are investigating the company.
If you have mistakenly sent a check, the Secretary of State's office is working with the Postal Service to intercept the letters. Go to SOS.RI.GOV for more information. Or call (401)222-3040