Watch Out for This Scam from Your “State Government”

Author: Lawrence S. Jacobs Date: 12/21/2014

Categories: Business Startups, Corporate and Business Law, Real Estate Law

A nationwide scam is now hitting our area. The scammers are accessing publicly-available records to generate fraudulent mailings to businesses and property owners, suggesting that you need to pay fees and submit extra documents in order to complete your transaction. To confuse you, the mailings often use misleading company names, designed to sound like official government agencies.

In Maryland, bogus invoices/bills are being mailed to some property owners who recently had documents recorded in county Land Records. The messages indicate that the property owner needs to pay a fee to make sure the property is titled correctly. It may also suggest that this is a requirement, and that failing to do so could result in the property being owned by someone else.

In addition, fraudulent invoices are being sent to companies that recently filed corporate documents with the State of Maryland, District of Columbia and Commonwealth of Virginia. The mailings direct recipients to complete a form and send a fee by a certain date. As with the property owner scam, the bad actors appear to monitor public records for recent filings with legitimate government agencies, and then target the companies that have made those filings. Some even imply that if the company doesn’t comply, it will lose its good standing with the state. Others indicate that the recipient will receive a Certificate of Good Standing, showing that the business is in compliance with state requirements once the filing and fees are received.

If you receive a suspicious mailing that suggests you are liable for unexpected or unusual fees and filings, first check the fine print. The entities behind these mailings often include a short, tiny note stating that the sender is not affiliated with any government agency. If you find that verbiage just toss the mailing into your recycling bin.

If you receive such a mailing after an attorney at McMillan Metro has filed or recorded a document on behalf of you or your company, and you are unable to confirm whether it is legitimate, please contact us immediately. We are familiar with all of the fees and document filings connected with your transaction and we can quickly determine if it’s fraudulent or legitimate.