Judge fines company for fraudulent business letters

by Staff report
| December 20, 2022 1:00 AM

SEATTLE — A King County Superior Court ordered two companies and their owners on Nov. 1 to pay $24.8 million in penalties after sending over 230,000 deceptive letters to small business owners in violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act, according to a press release from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

According to the press release, Florida-based Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance sent 232,091 letters — which were designed to look like they were from government agencies — to business owners across the state demanding payment for state-required posters and certificates.

The posters are available for free from the state, the press release said, and the certificates are also available from the state at a fraction of the cost charged by the two companies.

More than 15,000 Washington businesses paid approximately $1.27 million to the two companies, which they will get back with interest, the press release said, adding the two companies made roughly $5.3 million nationwide in the mailing scheme and that the judgment handed down on Tuesday is the first against the two companies.

“This scam preyed on business owners who were juggling multiple responsibilities and wanted to play by the rules,” Ferguson said in the press release. “My family ran a small business in Everett for decades. The last thing they needed was somebody trying to take advantage of their desire to play by the rules. We will continue aggressively standing up for Washington small businesses.”

If you suspect you have been targeted by this or similar scams, contact the Attorney General’s office at 1-800-551-4636 or you can file a complaint at atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.