Provided by James A. Carolan, CWS®, CTFA | Sr. Estate Planning Attorney for EWM Legal Solutions
A colleague of mine, Dennis Monahan, alerted me to a new scam that one of his clients was hit with. All who own businesses should be on the lookout for scams like this.
Dennis recently created a new LLC for one of his clients. Shortly after filing, his client received a notice from “LLCS”. This notice told his client that he was required “by Federal law” to display a certain poster or face fines in excess of $7,000.
The notice, which arrived in a very official-looking envelope, included an order form to purchase the required poster for the small sum of $108.00. The order form was crafted to appear to be a government-issued form.
While there are some notices that employers must post, no government office is sending out this order form to get a poster. One source for the “all-in-one” Michigan-compliant poster is https://complianceposter.com/product/michigan-labor-law-poster/ for example. Rather than a charge of $108.00, you can order the poster for only $34.95. There are other resources as well, this is just one of them.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only scam perpetrated on business owners.
A news report/article from Channel 4 in Detroit in June 2015 highlighted other things to watch for. Scam targets Michigan businesses (clickondetroit.com)
The common theme of these scams is to send something that appears to be official communication from the government. The implication is that you need to complete and return the form, with payment, or you will be fined for not being in compliance.
In 2015 the notice was to complete and file your corporate meeting minutes; failure to do so would result in dissolution of your corporation. The same address was used in 2015 as my friend Dennis reported for LLCS in Lansing for his client’s recent contact.
Always read the “fine print” when you receive anything that looks to be an “official government document”.
News 4 and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs advised that if you are targeted by any of these scams to do the following:
- Keep the notice, mailing envelope, and return envelope.
- Contact the United States Postal Inspections Service to report mail fraud at (877) 876- 2455 or https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/
- Or contact the Michigan Office of the Attorney General at P.O. Box 30212, Lansing, MI 48909.
Reading the “fine print” holds true for your personal life as well. Many clients report that after we fund their homes to their revocable living trust they received a notice, also in a very official looking envelope. That scam is a letter and form telling them they need to get an “official copy” of their deed for protection, and offers to provide that for a small fee. Once we file and record your deed, it is a public record, everyone is on notice, and of course the deed can be found in the record by anyone. Further, once the Register of Deeds records the original it is sent back to our office, we keep a scan of it, and send the original recorded deed to our client. There is nothing that service offers you beyond getting a copy of the deed from the public record; the one you already have in your hands. All that these people do is watch the public record filings and then send out their notice offering to protect you buy selling you what you already have the original for in your hands.
EWM Legal Solutions – We Can Help. From creating your entity through assisting with establishing the entity with LLC operating agreements or corporate records, to buy-sell agreements. Do you need help navigating the risks involved in running a family business? Every part of a business affects every other part. Concerns in one area can quickly spread to another and reveal existing structural deficits. An experienced business attorney can work with you to develop policies that mitigate the risks inherent to family-owned businesses. Keep your family business running smoothly now and in the future: contact our office to schedule an appointment.
Executive Wealth Management and EWM Legal Solutions are separate but affiliated companies. Executive Wealth Management (EWM) is a Registered Investment Advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Reference to registration does not imply any specific level of qualification or skill. Investment Advisor Representatives of EWM offer Investment Advice and Financial Planning Services to customers located within the United States.