SEATTLE — Two companies and their owners have been ordered to pay over $24 million to King County small business owners.
A King County Superior Court judge has ordered CA Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance to more than 15,000 business owners that were deceived by the companies. The judge said that both companies based their business models on deceiving small business owners.
Both companies sent a total of 232,091 letters to residents that appeared to be from the government demanding payments of about $85 each for posters or certificates and implying they were mandatory for businesses. The companies bulked a total of $1.27 million out of area business owners for free posters and certificates that business owners can obtain from state and federal agencies.
The lawsuit was filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson in March against Florida-based CA Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance as well as their owners. The Washington Secretary of State issued an alert about the scam by CA Certificate Service in March of 2019 yet the company continued to do business in the state until Ferguson filed the lawsuit.
King County Superior Court Judge David Whedbee ordered the companies to repay all Washington businesses involved their full payments in addition to pre-judgment interest.
The court found that the companies had committed 232,091 separate violations of the Consumer Protection Act.
The judge also ordered that both companies be permanently blocked from mailing any letters into the state of Washington that are associated in any way with an invoice or a bill that a consumer must pay. The companies also cannot send any more letters that appear to be from a government at any level or a person working for any level of government.
It is believed that the companies made more than $5.3 million in profits from their deceptive schemes across the nation. Although businesses and other states have also been affected by the two companies’ deception, the judgment, in this case, is the first one against the businesses that have resulted in the findings of the companies being liable for breaking the law.