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MADISON — The State of Wisconsin has obtained a Consent Judgment against Lansing, Michigan-based Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc. and one of its principals, Steven J. Fata, in a case involving a deceptive solicitation for “annual corporate minutes” services. After the trial of the case had begun, the defendants agreed to entry of judgment against them in the amount of $340,000. That amount includes $183,500 in consumer restitution, costs and attorneys’ fees and $156,500 in civil forfeitures and related court assessments. The judgment also imposes a permanent injunction upon the defendants, requiring them to make a set of changes to their solicitation in order to protect future consumers from being mislead.
“This judgment sends a strong signal that those who solicit business in Wisconsin must do so honestly,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “Engaging in deception to sell goods and services not only harms consumers, but is unfair to law-abiding competitors. I am pleased we will be able to return all of the money paid by Wisconsin businesses because of this scheme.”
Defendant Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc., doing business as “Corporate Records Service,” sent solicitations to 72,860 Wisconsin corporations by direct mail in an envelope bearing the words: “IMPORTANT ANNUAL MINUTES REQUIREMENT STATEMENT.” Inside of the envelopes, recipients found a “2013-Annual Minutes Form,” the contents and form of which mislead businesses into believing that Wisconsin law required them to complete the form and send it to “Corporate Records Service" with a $125 payment. The State also alleged that the solicitation, gave the misleading and deceptive impression that it was a government document or was sponsored by the government, when it was not. The State contended that the defendants violated Wis. Stat. § 100.18(1), which prohibits untrue, deceptive and misleading statements made to the public for the purpose of inducing the sale of goods or services.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, which was entered by the court on September 4, 2013 Mandatory Poster Agency must register to do business in Wisconsin with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, and the defendants must conform any subsequent solicitations to certain requirements as set forth in the permanent injunction. The defendants also are required to pay the monetary portion of the judgment within thirty days, at which time the Department of Justice will begin providing restitution to all businesses that paid money to the defendants.
The State was represented in this matter by Assistant Attorney General Lewis Beilin.
A copy of the Consent Judgment is available here.