From Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita. California may want to follow suit (although California's laws may be drafted differently than Indiana's, and it is not clear if these defendants are also behind some of the California mailings.
COMPLAINT FILED IN BUSINESS MAIL SCAM
May 21, 2009- An out-of-state operation sending deceptive solicitations to Indiana businesses for the last several months would face fines of over $1.5 million and be barred from doing business in Indiana if the state prevails in a lawsuit filed last week in Marion County court.
The complaint against Aaron V. Williams of Las Vegas, Lisa Diane Brown of California and several companies affiliated with the two was filed by Attorney General Greg Zoeller in Marion County Superior Court alleging several violations of the Deceptive Commercial Solicitation Act. The action comes after a multi-state investigation by the office of Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita which tracked the activities of a business operated by Williams and Brown known as "Indiana Corporate Compliance."
Indiana businesses have reported receiving letters from Indiana Corporate Compliance that appear to come from an official government source - specifically the Business Services Division of the Indiana Secretary of State's office. The letter solicits annual fees of $125 to $150 that it claims will be used for the record keeping and processing of the company's annual minutes. It also instructs businesses to respond by citing fictitious state law and including a "return by" date. The return addresses on the letters are rented mailboxes at UPS stores in Indianapolis, including one within steps of the Indiana Statehouse.
"The actions of these out-of-state scam artists to bilk Indiana businesses are deceptive, despicable, and likely criminal," said Secretary Rokita. "I will do everything I can to stand up for Indiana businesses and shield them from financial attack. I thank Attorney General Zoeller and his team for helping bring legal action."
Secretary Rokita has issued warnings through the media, sent e-mails to Indiana businesses and posted warnings on his Web page to ignore the letter. Still, businesses report falling victim to the scam and have sent money in response to the letter. No business has reported receiving any services from Indiana Corporate Compliance. Secretary Rokita's office continues to investigate and is developing a criminal case against Williams and Brown.
State law requires periodic business entity reporting, but with fees of only $30 every two years for for-profit entities and $10 every year for non-profit organizations. Businesses operating in Indiana can now securely perform this reporting online through the INBiz portal found on the Secretary of State's Web page, www.sos.in.gov/business.
If you believe you fell victim to this solicitation, please contact the Business Services Division Help Line at (317) 232-6576. Businesses wishing to check the validity of any mailing from Indiana's Business Services Division or any division of the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State should also call this number.
See also: California Corporate Compliance Minutes