The state’s attorney general and secretary of state have collaborated on a case to stop a California man from stealing thousands of dollars from Iowa corporations.
A judge today issued an injunction against the man who sent an official-looking letter to Iowa-based corporations, seeking a $125 fee to file paperwork with the state.
Attorney General Tom Miller says the mailing had the “aura” of an official document, but it’s not.
“The trickery of the form and the government look-alike and the payment of the fee, thinking it was to government, was a form of deception,” Miller says.
At least 270 Iowa corporations sent a check to what turned out to be a post office box in Des Moines. U.S. Postal Service inspectors helped intercept the mail and about $33,000 worth of checks were recovered. Secretary of State Matt Schultz says his office began fielding calls about this mailing in June.
“To start a business in Iowa is $50. They’re charging a $125 that would be on what seems like an annual basis according to the document they’re using to mislead Iowa businesses,” Schultz says. “…This is an exorbitant fee compared to the fees that are charged for business filings in the state of Iowa.”
Investigators are trying to determine where this California man got a mailing list for Iowa corporations. The attorney general has asked a judge for permission to mail back the checks that were intercepted.
“These accumulated over a period of weeks. There was a deadline at the end of June. In the last few days, I think 48 came in of the 270, so it seems to be declining,” Miller says. “We think we’ve gotten most or all of them that Iowans sent in.”
Miller says the good news is none of those checks were cashed, so none of those corporations paid any money in this scheme.
The secretary of state says any document that must be filed with his office can be found on the website for his office.
“That’s why we’re trying to let the public know and make sure that they’re not feeling that they have to provide this filing,” Schultz says. “There’s always an element to our society who tries to game the system and I’m just glad that the attorney general and our office were able to work together to stop it.”
Schultz is a Republican. Miller is a Democrat. The two held a joint news conference this morning to discuss the case with reporters.
AUDIO of 20-minute news conference.