Updated 06/15/2012 09:41 AM
Scam letter making its way to Bay State business owners
He thought it was an annual letter he gets from the state, asking him to confirm a few questions. Come to find out, what one Pittsfield business owner actually got was a scam making its way around the Bay State. YNN's Brandon Walker has more on a Boston-based fraud and how you can keep yourself safe.
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- It seemed like the letter Steven Valenti, a Pittsfield haberdasher, would get every year, practically matching a form from Massachusetts' Secretary of State.
"This part of the form is identical to the form I get," Valenti said, as he read through the letter, which asked him to identify shareholders and other information.
It was to be mailed back to a company called Compliance Services. It even included an envelope with the company's address.
"We have to sign it and mail a check for $125 to the state," he said.
As he'd normally do. That, too, was in the letter, which even cited state law. In fact, Valenti's only suspicion was that the letter came to him and not his accountant, as it usually does.
"So you bring it to your accountant and she says no, no, this is a scam, what did you think," asked our reporter.
"I was shocked, really, that someone would be out there, preying on individuals," Valenti said.
"They get better at making them look official, but they're not," said Karen Kowalczyk, a certified public accountant, who oversees Valenti's finances.
Kowalczyk says she knew immediately Compliance Services was a scam. The so-called company sent a letter her accounting firm, along with many of her clients.
Same goes for other accountants around town.
"Anybody fell for it," asked our reporter.
"A couple of clients fell for it unfortunately, and they're out of luck. I think we've got everybody now on board and knowing what's going on," said Barry Clairmont, a certified public accountant.
The letter includes a web address to what's suppose to be the Secretary of State's website. There you'll see a site that mirrors the state's.
"It's pretty sad," said Valenti.
Sad, though, unfortunately common. If you've received a letter, take note some differences.
"In Massachusetts, there's not a rule that you have to file a copy for your minutes with the state, there is a rule that you have to file an annual report," Kowalczyk said.
Another thing, anything you get from the state will include a state address and the office from which it came.
"It's good if people like myself bring it to an accountant first before we react to it," said Valenti.