Rutledge: U.S. Business Services Deceived Arkansas Businesses
March 13, 2018
$100,000 to go to Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that Circuit Judge Chris Piazza has ordered Florida-based U.S. Business Services LLC to pay restitution to Arkansans and court costs and civil penalties to the State of Arkansas for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
“U.S. Business Services intentionally deceived and harmed Arkansas businesses with its deceptive practices,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By using documents that only appeared to be official government tax notices or notifications, this company tricked unsuspecting Arkansas business owners then offered to help those businesses – for a fee. The Court’s order not only requires the company to provide restitution to those businesses that fell victim to the deceit but also suspends the company’s business license in the State of Arkansas and will prevent further harm from these bad actors.”
U.S. Business Services solicited Arkansas businesses via direct mailings and offered to prepare and provide, for a $150 fee, corporate consent records in lieu of meeting minutes that purported to fulfill the requirements of Arkansas law. However, U.S. Business Services selectively quoted portions of Arkansas law to convey only those portions that would legitimize the solicitation, and the mailed documents were specifically designed to appear official in nature and required by a government entity.
The office received 34 complaints about the business practices of U.S. Business Services, and many others contacted the office by phone in order to report the scam. At least seven businesses paid $150 to the company as the form instructed, with four receiving restitution through mediation. After speaking with the Secretary of State’s office, Rutledge learned that it had also received numerous reports, inquiries and complaints regarding U.S. Business Services’ harmful practices. The Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act protects the legitimate business community as well as consumers.
The other three businesses that paid the fee will be paid restitution by U.S. Businesses Services. The company will also pay the State $5,500 in attorney fees and $100,000 in civil penalties to the Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund.