Thursday, September 08, 2011

Compliance Services: A fraud is a fraud is a fraud

The other day, I brought in the mail and handed my husband an envelope that was addressed to his company, a small – and I do mean small – incorporated consulting firm.

I didn’t pay much attention to what it was, but noted that the envelope said ‘IMPORTANT: Annual Minutes Requirement Statement. Business Mail – Time Sensitive.’

Since Jim has to fill in a number of state forms for his (nearly dormant) business, I figured this was one of them.

He looked at the envelope and saw what I hadn’t noticed. The words: THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT.

This is not a government document?” I said. “Then this is probably a scam.”

Which, indeed, it is.

“Compliance Services” lists a UPS-store mail box as its Boston address. 

The form inside looks enough like it’s government issued that someone half-glancing at it might just start filling it in. After all, whose to doubt that the state is interested in the “Annual Minutes Requirement Statement – Directors and Shareholders (Business Corporations)”?

The form pulls from what I assume are real-deal Massachusetts statutes on business filing requirements, then uses a number of ‘we’re being legal’ weasel statements.

“You can engage an attorney to prepare them [meetings of shareholders and board of directors], prepare them yourself, use some other service company or use our services. THIS PRODUCT HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED OR ENDORSED BY ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY AND THIS OFFER IS NOT BEING MADE BY AN AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT.”

Which might leave some business owner – harried, beleaguered, lacking in administrative support, feeling over regulated and stymied by the state – to believe that this was honest, full disclosure.  And that having “Compliance Services” do the filing for a mere $125.00 is worth every penny.

And, after all, these honest-johns claim that “all information will be treated as private and confidential and will not be available to others.”

They may not make this top secret information available to others, but you can best believe they save your name, address, and e-mail to keep on their sucker list. Why make this kind of golden revenue stream “available to others” when Compliance Services probably has other sucker-ama scams up their sleeves?

Check out their web-site, by the way.

In all seriousness, does this look like an honest-to-goodness business to you? Or a fly by night scam? Just saying…

It doesn’t take much to tear the lid of this scam by going to the trusty google.

The website Compliance Building is all over “Compliance Services”, and even has a 2009 caveat from our Secretary of State:

Bill Galvin, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued his warning:

Recently, an entity calling itself “Compliance Services” mailed solicitations entitled “Annual Minutes Requirement Statement Directors and Shareholders” to numerous Massachusetts corporations. This solicitation offers to complete corporate meeting minutes on behalf of the corporation for a fee. Despite the implications contained in the solicitation, Massachusetts corporations are not required by law to file corporate minutes with the Secretary of State.

The Better Business Bureau’s also onto these bums.

Compliance Services currently has an F rating from BBB. This rating means BBB strongly questions the company’s reliability for reasons such as that they have failed to respond to complaints, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law’s licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations or the company’s industry is known for its fraudulent business practices.

The BBB also notes that there are restraining orders in a couple of states against this outfit.

Obviously, it’s easy enough for a small business to get sucked into this. What’s $125 if it saves you time and hassle and gets “the man” off your back? And enough of them must do so to make it worthwhile for the scammers to keep scamming.

Easy enough to see this scenario at Joe’s Plumbing, Inc.:

Joe’s Wife/Admin Ass’t: Honey, we got this thing in the mail. There’s some form we have to file with the state about our shareholders.

Joe: Shareholders? We don’t got no stinkin’ shareholders.

Joe’s Wife: I think that’s you and me. Anyway, we have to get this form in. They say we can have our lawyer do it for us.

Joe: Lawyers? We don’t need no stinkin’ lawyers.

Joe’s Wife: These guys will do it for us for just $125. What do you think?

Joe: Done!

We’re asked to reply by September 14, 2011.

You betcha!

But the person we’ll be replying to will be Bill Galvin.

Now get out of our state!


Just in case someone got this scam-notice and is googling, their address is:

Commercial Services
71 Commercial St.
Postal Mail Box 241
Boston, MA 02109


Rudy said...

our company received three of these scam letters today. I emailed them to l. flynn at the secretary of state's office, per their website.

Maureen Rogers said...

Rudy - Good for you. The more people contacting their secretaries of state, the more likely these bums will get shut down.