(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has reached a settlement with a Florida company that charged dozens of Idaho business owners for bogus compliance certificates.

The settlement requires that Annual Business Services LLC pay more than $5,700 to 80 small business owners who paid up to $72 for certificates in 2015.

The agreement also prohibits the company, which operated in Idaho as Business Compliance Division, from advertising in the state under a name that could make a consumer believe the solicitation originated from a government agency.

“I believe we’ve achieved a positive outcome for Idaho business owners who paid for these certificates,” Wasden said. “My office has taken action against these so-called compliance-service companies before and we will aggressively pursue others who try to prey on Idaho’s small business leaders.”

An investigation began in August when business owners began filing complaints with the Attorney General and the Idaho Secretary of State.

Under the scheme, Annual Business Services targeted newly formed companies with direct-mail postcards designed to appear as if they came from a regulatory agency. Business owners who responded were told they needed to buy a certificate of existence or face potential fines.

Wasden said some business owners paid up to $72 for the certificate. The company then used a portion of each payment to order a certificate from the Secretary of State, which then sent the document directly to the business owner, Wasden said.

“We want to thank the Attorney General for his office’s quick response to this issue, and ending this scheme, saving many Idaho businesses from paying for something they really don’t need,” Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said.

In the coming weeks, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division will send letters to 80 consumers who are due to receive refunds.

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