August 15, 2013
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster and Secretary of State Jason Kander announced today that their offices have resolved a lawsuit and won concessions in a settlement with a Michigan firm accused of misleading Missouri businesses into paying for corporate filing services that are not required by state law.
The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc, doing business as Corporate Records Service, and owner Thomas Fata of Lansing, MI, began mailing solicitations to Missouri businesses in February 2013, offering to prepare and file annual corporate meeting minutes for a fee of $125. According to the state's lawsuit, the mailings were designed to have the "look and feel" of an official government document and falsely implied a statutory requirement that Missouri corporations submit annual corporate meeting minutes to the state. Several Missouri corporations contacted the Secretary of State's office, which referred the case to the Office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General filed a lawsuit in April alleging that the mailings violated Missouri's Merchandising Practices Act, which prohibits deception and false representations in solicitations for services.
"I appreciate Secretary Kander's office bringing this case to our attention. We will act quickly to protect Missourians from being tricked into paying for services they don’t need," said Koster.
"I'm glad Attorney General Koster and I were able to stop this company from misleading Missouri business owners about state requirements," Kander said. "Our offices will continue working together to protect businesses from being scammed."
Under the agreement filed on Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court, the company and its owner agreed to comply with Missouri's Merchandise Practices Act and to clearly indicate in any future solicitations that the company is not affiliated with the Missouri Secretary of State or any other government entity. The company further agreed to include clear language explaining that its filing service does not satisfy actual corporate-registration filing requirements under Missouri law.
In addition, Corporate Records Service agreed to send a letter to every Missouri business that received one of the misleading mailings explaining that the service it had offered did not satisfy a requirement under state law, and will offer a full refund to those businesses who bought the service. The company will also reimburse the state $2,000 for the costs associated with the legal investigation and lawsuit, and will pay a $3,000 fine, which will be deposited in the state's education fund.
Attorney General Koster and Secretary of State Kander recommend that businesses check with their offices before paying for compliance services offered by a third party. In some cases, such as this one, the solicitor may be offering a service that is not necessary to comply with state law. The Missouri Secretary of State Corporations Division can be reached at 866-223-6535. Consumers who receive a solicitation from Corporate Records Service or a similar misleading solicitation can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-392-8222.