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NEW: Mollis Warns RI Businesses of Direct Mail Scam

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

 

Don't be fooled by a letter from "Rhode Island Corporate Compliance". It may be a trick aimed at confusing your business.

Rhode Island businesses need to be on the lookout for a direct-mail scam aimed at bilking them of $125.

Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis released a statement today warning that correspondence from a company called “Rhode Island Corporate Compliance (RICC)” have recently been making the rounds and while it may look official and it may request an “Annual Disclosure Statement”, it has nothing to do with Mollis’ office or the state’s push for companies to file annual reports.

The request, which Mollis says comes in an “official-looking letter” cites a state law that requires corporations to keep records of accounts, minutes and the names and addresses of all shareholders and directs recipients to submit an “Annual Disclosure Statement” along with a “Document Fee” of $125.

But Rhode Island doesn’t require companies to file these records with Mollis’ office or any state office and some businesses may get confused with the current timing as many are in the midst of filing their annual reports with the Secretary’s office.

“We are concerned that companies may file the form and pay the $125 because they believe they are filing their annual report with us. Don’t be misled. That letter did not come from us. You must still file your annual report with us,” said Mollis, who tracked down the return address on the RICC mailing to a postal box number at a UPS store in downtown Providence.

Mollis says he is warning business owners because “failure to file an annual report can result in fines and the revocation of a corporation's Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Authority in Rhode Island.”

According to the Secretary, more than 110 business owners have called the Secretary of State’s office with questions about the notice. At least one had already mailed a check to RICC.

“Too many people have been confused by the mailing,” he said. “We’re assuring them that it did not come from our office and this is not a required filing by any state office.”

Mollis says he has taken steps to notify customers, including posting a warning on his website and sending an e-alert to thousands of businesses.

Bert Rodrigues of Al’s Liquor Store in Providence was one business owner who initially fell for the trick. Rodrigues filled out the form and mailed a check to RICC but called Mollis’ office after having “second thoughts.”

“The letter looked legitimate, so it was easy to take a quick look and think it’s just another one of those requirements that I need to do, mail a check and the paperwork,” he said.

After talking with Mollis’ office, Rodrigues was able to stop payment on the check before it was cashed.

Mollis urges anyone with questions about the direct mail solicitation to contact his office at 222-3040 or corporations@sos.ri.gov.
 

 

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