LANSING, MI – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today filed a civil lawsuit to prevent a Florida based company, Division of Corporate Services Inc. and its officers Chad Davis, Joshua Strawn and Tate Howe, from further operation in the state of Michigan after allegations of deceitful business practices designed to dupe Michigan small businesses and non –profit organizations.
The lawsuit alleges that the company sent misleading mailings designed to look like an official state form that corporate representatives are required to complete yearly to keep their businesses in good standing. Recipients were asked to complete and return the form with payment to a Lansing address. It is alleged the responding businesses were actually buying fake meeting minutes for their business. The suit also seeks $150 refunds for all Michigan businesses that responded to the mailing.
“Deception of hardworking Michigan business owners will not be tolerated,” said Schuette. “These business and non-profits believed they were simply complying with state regulations only to later find they had been taken advantage of.”
The action comes as the result of a complaint by a Charlevoix non-profit, The Walloon 17 Foundation, believing the mailing was an official state form responded to the Division of Corporate Services Inc. request. After returning the form as well as the requested payment, the foundation realized the scam and canceled the sent check. However, they still received a packet that included what claimed to be minutes from their annual shareholders meeting. The foundation does not have shareholders or an annual meeting. Walloon 17 then brought their findings to the Attorney General’s Corporate Oversight Division.
Additional companies across the state filed complaints regarding these business practices including the Michigan Education Scholarship Foundation in Petoskey, Paws of Hope in Stevensville, the Landlord Association of Houghton County, Healthsource Surgical Supply, Inc. in Troy, and Adopting a Waiting Child in Holland.
“I thank these businesses for taking time to bring this deceptive mailing to our attention,” Schuette added.
The AG’s investigation also revealed that Davis and Strawn of Largo, Florida and Howe of Scotts Valley, California, are alleged to have done similar mailings in other states last year using the name Annual Business Services, LLC.
“Our goal is to make sure Michigan businesses are protected from these types of bad actors. It is alleged that these individuals have used this scheme before but this suit will ensure Michigan business owners will not be a victim of this scam again,” said Schuette.
A civil lawsuit is merely an allegation, and defendants are not liable until the Court enters a judgment in the case.
If you believe your business was a victim of Division of Corporate Services, Inc Michigan residents may visit the Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.michigan.gov/ag, or mail a letter explaining the problem to: Michigan Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, P.O. Box 30213, Lansing, MI 48909. Consumers may also call the Attorney General’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-765-8388.