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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Fake company alert
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- A letter in the mail saying a person owes back taxes is scary, but how do they know if it's legitimate?
The mail may look like official government documents but looks can be deceiving. The company, Corporate Records Service, used misleading mailings to trick thousands of small-business owners into paying unnecessary fees.
Laura Carter, a U.S. Postal Inspector, said, "The forms these businesses were receiving looked legitimate they looked like a governmental document that was a requirement."
For $125 CRS offered to fill out forms supposedly "required" by the state. The forms looked urgent, written in legal language with a "please respond by" mark in the corner.
Abby Kuzma, director of Consumer Protection, said, "The scammers have gotten very creative and very good at mimicking the labels, the logos, the whole impression of it being government documents."
The owners of CRS, Thomas and Steven Fata, were the subject of complaints in several states including Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Kuzma said, "Ordinarily, when you get a document that looks like a government document, you respond. We really need to let people know that people are scamming in this way."
Postal inspectors said always check with your state attorney general or local better business bureau to see if the mailing received is legitimate. As for Thomas and Steven Fata, they are awaiting trial and are the subject of a court order not to send deceptive mailings.
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