AG TONG ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT WITH COMPANY THAT SENT MAILERS RESEMBLING GOVERNMENT FORMS TO CONNECTICUT BUSINESSES
(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong along with Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill and Department of Consumer Protection commissioner Michelle Seagull, announced a settlement today with ANS, INC. d/b/a Workplace Compliance Services resolving a case involving allegations of government imposter fraud.
ANS, a Michigan based corporation, sent mailings to Connecticut LLCs offering to assist with their annual report filings with the Secretary of State. The mailings closely resembled official government forms and led a number of Connecticut businesses to believe the communication was from the government, not a private company, and they were required to use ANS’s services in order to remain in compliance with state law.
“These types of scams can be devastating for Connecticut’s small businesses who believe the deceptive mailings to be important and urgent government forms,” said Attorney General Tong. “This settlement is a favorable result for the Connecticut businesses that were victimized here and for small businesses generally. We recognize and appreciate ANS’s efforts to resolve this important issue.”
“We do not take efforts to mislead Connecticut businesses lightly, especially when they erode trust in government entities,” said Commissioner Seagull. “We are proud to partner with the Attorney General’s office to ensure businesses in our state are not misled by mailings like this.”
“Government imposter scams are a serious threat to thriving Connecticut businesses,” said Secretary Merrill. “I am proud to have worked with the Attorney General to have publicized this scam and am gratified to see it resolved. Connecticut businesses can always contact my office or visit business.ct.gov to get accurate information and official forms.”
ANS cooperated with the state’s investigation and agreed to bring its operations into compliance with Connecticut law. As a part of the settlement, ANS is required to register to do business in Connecticut, pay all past due taxes and fees, and issue refunds to customers who used its services. ANS is also required to clearly disclose on its mailings that it is not a government agency.
Government imposter scams can take many forms and can target individuals and businesses alike. In one of the more common schemes, scammers mail solicitations or send emails to businesses to “advise” them that they must purchase certain products or forms, or file particular reports in order to be in compliance with the law. The scammers then offer to assist businesses with satisfying these requirements in exchange for a fee.
Scammers are careful to design their mailings to resemble official government documents by incorporating elements such as seals, bar codes, and references to statutes and regulations. The mailings may include terms such as “IMPORTANT,” “OPEN IMMEDIATELY,” or “TIME SENSITIVE” to create a false sense of urgency. Businesses which fall prey to these tactics end up paying significant fees for services they either do not need, or could take care of themselves for much less money.
To report a scam or instance of fraud, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318 or file a complaint with the office at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint
Assistant Attorneys General Brendan Flynn and Ann-Marie DeGraffenreidt, Michael Wertheimer, head of the Consumer Protection Department, and legal investigators Christine Buck and Caylee Ribeiro assisted the Attorney General with this matter.