SEATTLE – Consumer protection lawsuits have been filed against two companies that sent deceptive letters to small business owners throughout the state of Washington.
According to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, 210,000 deceptive letters were sent out to small business owners, demanding payment for a “Certificate of Status” or a poster for the workplace that can be obtained from the Washington State government free of charge. More than 15,000 business owners paid the two defendants, CA Certificate Service, which also does business as WA Certificate Service, and Labor Poster Compliance, more than $1.2 million.
The lawsuits specifically name the owners of the two companies, including CA Certificate Service owners James L. Beard, Dean G. Marshlack, Chad M. Davis and Joshua T. Strawn. Beard and Davis are also named in the suits as the co-owners of Labor Poster Compliance. The companies operate throughout the United States but are based in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Ferguson said that the two companies have sent out at least 210,784 letters since March of 2019 to dupe business owners into making unnecessary payments to both of the companies. According to the Attorney General’s Office, about 14,783 small business owners shelled out $82.50 each to CA Certificate Service for a whopping total of $1.2 million and over $25,000 at a rate of $79.25 to Labor Poster Compliance with 318 Washington business owners paying the unnecessary fee.
Ferguson said the letters the two companies mailed to business owners were created to look official and to be legitimate. Some business owners attempted to have their money refunded when they realized the companies were misleading them but did not receive any responses or refunds.
Ferguson’s office continues to receive complaints as more business owners come forward who have been duped by the two companies. He is asking the court to require both companies to pay back the money they took from business owners throughout the state, along with civil penalties, attorney fees and court costs. He has cited several other cases that are similar in nature in which small business owners were successful in winning the lawsuits that were filed. He is hopeful to garner the same success for the duped small business owners from his own state.