Raleigh, N.C. — A Florida company that sent mailings to North Carolina businesses claiming to be affiliated with a government agency and threatening to dissolve their corporation unless they paid a fee has been ordered to stop, officials said Friday.
Superior Court Judge Howard Manning granted a state request for a temporary restraining order to stop National Business Registration, National Companies Registrar Corp. and owner Bernd A. Taubert from misleading businesses. Aubert and the companies are temporarily barred from calling or sending invoices or collection letters to any North Carolina business.
“Companies that use threatening and misleading tactics to prey on unsuspecting businesses have no place in our state,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. “We’ve put a stop to their bogus claims so that no other businesses will fall into their trap.”
Cooper is also seeking to permanently stop the allegedly deceptive practices and has asked the court to order them to pay civil penalties to the state.
Cooper and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall sued Aubert and the companies this week, contending that National Business Registrar sent invoices to businesses claiming that they failed to register with the National Corporation Registry. The mailings claim that registering is mandated by the Federal Patriot Act, and they state that the recipient company must pay $487 and provide information to avoid dissolution of their corporation.
According to Marshall’s affidavit, there is no national business registry maintained by a government on any level.
"This is a scam against North Carolina's business people, plain and simple," Marshall said in the statement. "We urge everyone as strongly as we can not to send these crooks any money.”
The suit also alleges that National Business Registrar’s mailings include an official-looking emblem or seal that could be mistaken for the official seal of North Carolina. Businesses are directed to a Web site that also contains a link to the official Web site of the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State.
According to the complaint, mailings appear to have been deliberately timed to arrive just as businesses are finalizing their financial affairs for the year in hopes that busy office personnel might pay the demanded sum without checking into the claims.
“While the end of year may be a busy time for your business, always check out invoices carefully before you send a check,” Cooper said. “If you find out the invoice is phony and you have already sent money, first try to cancel that payment, and then contact my office."