Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release
June 14, 2013
Media Contact: Molly McFarland
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Attorney General Bondi Sues Company for Allegedly Misrepresenting Itself as Department of State and Stealing Money from Florida’s Businesses
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office today sued Florida Center of Corporations and its owner, Thomas H. Fred Jr., for allegedly deceiving companies by sending them letters giving the impression that they had to pay additional fees to become corporations when, in fact, they were already corporations under the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations. According to the lawsuit, since February 2013, more than 12,000 Florida businesses have paid fees to the Center in response to these deceptive mailings.
“A company misrepresenting itself as a state entity and obtaining funds based on that deception is violating the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act,” stated Attorney General Bondi. “Thousands of Florida businesses have been harmed, and my office is committed to stopping this deceptive activity.”
The Davie-based Florida Center of Corporations allegedly sent thousands of mailings that resembled documents from the state Division of Corporations to businesses throughout Florida, stating that the businesses had “one step left” in connection with their applications to become corporations. The Florida Center of Corporations then requested that payment, ranging from $45 to $54, be mailed to it in order for the businesses to obtain official documents stating that they are corporations.
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin the company from doing business and asks that Thomas H. Fred Jr. pay restitution to consumers. Sunbiz.org has now posted a warning on its website advising businesses to beware of deceptive solicitations. Businesses who have been affected, can call the Attorney General’s fraud hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.