AUGUSTA, Maine — If you’re a small business owner, you may have received a green envelope in the mail this week that appears as if it came from the state. It did not, and Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is calling it “a scam.”
The letters come from a company called Corporate Records Service and are labeled “Annual Report Solicitation Form.” The return mailing address is 126 Western Ave., #338 in Augusta.
The included form looks official and cites Maine statute having to do with the filing of annual reports and minutes of annual meetings. Companies in Maine are required to file an annual report with the state, but it’s nothing more than the names of the officers and the registered agent. Businesses are not required to file meeting minutes.
“I don’t hesitate to use the word ‘scam’ on this,” Dunlap told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday.
Valerie Chiasson, an attorney and owner of a small law firm in Ellsworth, Giunta & Chiasson LLC, received a stack of the letters in the mail on Thursday because she acts as the registered agent for many small businesses.
The letters are an offer to prepare a corporate record for those businesses that choose not to hold an annual meeting, and to instead complete a Consent in Lieu of an annual meeting, Chiasson said.
While Chiasson doesn’t want to use the word “scam,” she is worried that the letters could “deceive” small business owners.
“I’m afraid that if people don’t read it carefully — and a very busy small business owner might do that — they won’t realize that they don’t have to pay someone to do this for them,” she told the BDN.
Whether what this company is doing constitutes a crime “is a difficult thing to put a pin on,” according to Dunlap.
He notes that the envelopes are clearly marked with “This is not a government document” and that the company is offering a service — it’s just not one the state requires, as the letters might lead a business owner to believe.
“That’s how they’re getting away with this,” he said.
This is not the first time Corporate Record Service has attempted to raise funds from unsuspecting business owners with these solicitations. The company sent out similar requests in January and June.
Dunlap recommends business owners with questions or concerns contact the Division of Corporations at 624-7752 or www.maine.gov/sos/cec/corp/.