New scam targets Wisconsin business owners - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New scam targets Wisconsin business owners

MADISON (WKOW)--  Wisconsin businesses are being warned about a scam. It involves a bogus request to pay $125 to register with the state, but the company making the request has no affiliation with state government.

Friday afternoon, small business owner Lori Waters got an interesting letter in the mail.

"I opened it up and I was taking a look at it and it asks for the minutes of the corporation, who the president is, who are the board directors, all the same questions you get from the Department of Financial Institutions," Waters explains.

That's what the company Corporate Records Service wants you to believe. Every year in the state of Wisconsin businesses are sent a blue postcard in the mail requiring them to register with the state and send a small fee. This company, Corporate Records Service, is trying mimic that yearly registry sending a letter asking for business information and $125.

"There's just nothing legitimate about this," Waters says. "There's nothing that we gain by it. It's just somebody collecting $125 for absolutely nothing."

The return envelope lists the address 1360 Regent Street #161. The 27 News team tracked it down to a P.O Box at a UPS store on Regent Street.

Lori's business isn't the only one being targeted by this possible scam. If you go to the Better Business Bureau website and type in Corporate Records Service you'll see that they have an "F" rating with several complaints.

You'll also see that the Illinois Secretary of State has issued a warning to businesses and the attorney general is currently investigating the company.

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions issued a warning of its own Wednesday to businesses owners like Lori who is doing everything she can to spread the word.

"The only people that can be proactive about it are people like myself that when they get this stuff in the mail or get a phone call and realize that it's a scam is to let people know that it's going on," Waters says.

$125 dollars might not seem like too much, but according to 2010 census data there are over 139,000 registered businesses in Wisconsin. Getting just 10% of them to send money would equal $1.8 million.



MADISON (WKOW)-- A scam targeting Wisconsin businesses with a letter asking for $125.

It mimics a formal document business owners do have to file with the state Department of Financial Institutions every year, but this document comes from Corporate Records Service. The company has no affiliation with the state.

At first glance it looks legitimate and very professional, but if you look closer you'll see there's no e-mail address, no phone number, no way you can actually contact Corporate Records Service. The only information they give is an address on the return envelope used for sending the $125.

The 27 News team tracked that address to a P.O Box at the UPS store on Regent Street. Local business owner Lori Waters is trying to warn others about this scam.

"Most people just wouldn't pay attention to it when they're referring to the state and they're citing different codes and things like that out of the state books. They're just going to take a look at it and put the money in the mail," Waters explains.

There is an easy way to tell the difference between the real document and the fake one. The real one is a small light blue postcard that's labeled with an e-mail address and phone number you can call. The fake one is a long white letter sent with a return envelope that says Corporate Records Services

This scam isn't only happening in Wisconsin. The Better Business Bureau's website has several complaints. The Illinois Secretary of State has issued a warning to local businesses and the Illinois Attorney General is investigating this company for a possible lawsuit.

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