19yr old killed in shooting in Kalamazoo  KDPS now reporting more than one person was shooting in the homicide investigation on Mt. Olivet. A 19-year old was shot and died at Borgess Hospital.

DEVELOPING
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

I-Team: Company facing allegations of misleading businesses, nonprofits

Updated: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 |
I-Team: Company facing allegations of misleading businesses, nonprofits story image
LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - An I-Team investigation finds a company based in Michigan is attracting national attention, but not the attention that most companies would want.

Victims say Corporate Records Service is misleading small businesses and nonprofits asking for money for a service that state regulators say may not be necessary.

34 states have put out warnings about the company.

We found Corporate Records Service does not make it easy to find its offices or talk to company management.

The I-Team's adventure to track down the company and the man listed with the Better Business Bureau as its Co-Owner Steve Fata took us across Lansing and to a lot of different addresses.

Kalamazoo non-profit Director Demarra Gardner  received one of their letters.

"It's just sickening to think people are out there finding any way that they can scam on individuals and organizations," says Garnder.

Gardner feels fortunate that as she was about to pay she had second thoughts and never sent money.

But other businesses and non-profits across the country getting the letters have not been so lucky.
 
The letters look official according to recipients who say they thought they were from a government agency. 

They ask for $125 "prepare and provide corporate records to meet the following requirements of Michigan law." They ask for the names of shareholders and corporate directors.

"Every one of these states has hundreds of thousands if not millions of businesses in them and if every one of them pay $125 dollars each to file these corporate minutes or corporate annual report kinds of things, that's a lot of money," says BBB Western Michigan President Phil Catlett.

The BBB  in West Michigan has been fielding the complaints from across the country.

The company shares a business address in Lansing with another business called "Labor Law Poster Service" which according to BBB records Fata also co-owns. A man there who identified himself as a manager told us no one could talk to us, but defended corporate records,

"It's not a scam, we provide a service, the same as an attorney or an accountant would provide," says the manager.

When we went to the address of another of Fata's businesses listed with the BBB, Vintage City Guitars, we instead found another Labor Law Poster Service office with a large call center but Fata wasn't there.

According to court records Fata's home address is this house in Lansing and we found he also has two boats and four cars registered to him with the state.

Fata later called Newschannel 3, and while he did not want to let us record an interview,  he did send written answers to our questions; he says,

"There is nothing misleading about our solicitation documents.  We make it perfectly clear that we are a private entity offering a service, for a fee, to meet the requirements of Michigan corporate law… the only way that anyone could be confused by our solicitation documents is if a person did not read them."

But in all 34 states have put out a warning about Corporate Records, many of those accuse the company of offering a service that may not be necessary… or that organizations can do themselves for free.

The warning from Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulation says,"in Michigan corporations are not required by law to file corporate records…"

The I-team has also found out the Michigan Attorney General is now investigating the company and says Corporate Records agreed to stop sending its letters in Michigan during the investigation.

Fata says, “the Attorney General's office is investigating our company because of what we believe to be complaints made by, or instigated by, our competitors… as we have done nothing wrong, we are completely willing to cooperate." 

Read more of Fata’s answers to our questions below:

=====================

WWMT: The Michigan Attorney General’s office says it is investigating Corporate Records Service, can you tell us why they are investigating the company?  The AG’s office also says you’ve agreed not to send out letters in Michigan while the investigation is going on, can you say why you agreed to that?
 
RESPONSE: Like most States, Michigan has a law that requires corporations to prepare and maintain certain records on an annual basis.  Specifically, corporations are required to select a board of directors and to document the action taken.  Corporate Records Service offers corporations a cost effective and convenient  to meet this requirement.  This service has traditionally been provided by lawyers, accountants, or other business advisors.  Corporate Records Service offers a way to fulfill this requirement at a cost much lower than what has been traditionally charged by other providers.
 
In addition to the corporate records, corporations are also required to file with the State of Michigan an annual report document.  Corporate Records Service does not offer services to meet the annual report requirement.
 
The Attorney General’s Office is investigating our company because of what we believe to be complaints made by, or instigated by, our competitors.  The Michigan Attorney General’s Office had concern that we were offering to file the annual reports with the State of Michigan and not following through.  On the contrary, we do not provide a service to fulfill the annual report requirement and, instead, our service is limited to the annual corporate records.
 
As we have done nothing wrong, we are completely willing to cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office to resolve any concerns.  We agreed to suspend solicitations on a temporary basis while we work with the Attorney General’s Office.

 
WWMT: Do you consider the letters you send to businesses misleading, what would you say the purpose of those letters is?
 
RESPONSE: There is nothing misleading about our solicitation documents.  We make it perfectly clear that we are a private entity offering a service, for a fee, to meet the requirements of Michigan corporate law.  We indicate in our materials that customers are not required to use our service and, instead, the corporate records can be prepared by the customers themselves, by lawyers, accountants or other business services.  The only way that anyone could be confused by our solicitation documents is if a person did not read them.
 
WWMT: The States that have put out warnings about the company all say you are offering a service that isn’t needed in those States and Michigan says it doesn’t require minutes to be sent in, so why are you asking for money to do that?
 
RESPONSE: We believe that the State’s warning creates confusion rather than providing clarification.  It is true that the corporate records do not need to be sent into the State of Michigan, but we never say that they do.  On the other hand, there is no question that Michigan law requires that corporations prepare and maintain annual corporate records.  We provide a service to meet that requirement that is both cost effective and convenient. Our customers are very satisfied with what they receive and appreciate the value in what we offer.
 
WWMT: What do you do with information that companies do send to you, do you send it to the State?
 
RESPONSE: In order to prepare the documents that fulfill the corporate record requirements, we obtain from our customers information regarding the shareholders of the corporation, its board of directors, and its officers.  With this information, we prepare documents that meet the requirements of State corporate law.
 
WWMT: Why do you think so many States have put out warnings about you or taken the company to court?  Are all of them wrong about your services?
 
RESPONSE: We believe that most, if not all, of the complaints are instigated by our competitors, who usually charge two or three times more than us, or even more.  We offer our customers an unconditional 100% money back guarantee.  Thus, the people who have lodged complaints are not our customers and, instead, are people who have been told by our competitors that we do not offer a valuable service.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on July 24, 2014 07:36 GMT

WORLD MARKETS

UNDATED (AP) -- Asian shares were subdued today despite an improvement in China's manufacturing as a wait-and-see mood prevailed ahead of earnings reports from some of the region's top companies.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, erased early gains to slip 0.4 percent to 15,268 in afternoon trading.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.5 percent at 24,099.99 while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 2,027.40. Shares were mostly higher in Southeast Asia.

OIL PRICES

UNDATED (AP) -- The price of oil fell today, giving back part of its sizeable jump the day before, despite improvement in Chinese manufacturing.

Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery was down 16 cents at $102.96 a barrel at 0650 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract gained delivery gained 73 cents to $103.12 on Wednesday after data released by the Energy Department Wednesday showed a drop in U.S. crude inventories that was more than double what analysts had expected.

CHINA MANUFACTURING

HONG KONG (AP) -- A survey shows China's factory activity rose in July to its highest level in 18 months, a sign that mini-stimulus measures to shore up the world's No. 2 economy have taken hold.

The preliminary HSBC purchasing managers' index rose to 52.0 in July from 50.7 in June.

The index uses a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.

The report said overall new orders and new export orders in China's giant manufacturing industry rose faster in July than the month before. China's economic growth edged up to 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter after slowing in the previous period.

HSBC said the impact of finely tuned stimulus measures rolled out by policymakers in recent months is "still filtering through."

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's a busy day economic data and corporate earnings reports.

The Labor Department leads the data this morning with its weekly jobless claims. A little later, Commerce Department releases its report on new home sales for June, while Freddie Mac provides the latest survey of mortgage rates.

As for corporate earnings, Ford, General Motors, Caterpillar, 3M, American and Southwest Airlines and Union Pacific all report their quarterly financial results before the market opens.

After the market closes, Amazon.com, Visa and Starbucks issue their results.

EARNS-AT&T

Cheaper wireless plans cut into AT&T 2Q profit

NEW YORK (AP) -- AT&T has posted lower net income for the latest quarter due to cheaper cellphone plans it introduced as a response to aggressive pricing from smaller competitor T-Mobile US.

AT&T says it earned $3.55 billion, or 68 cents per share. Excluding some one-time items, AT&T's earnings were 62 cents per share, a penny shy of expectations. Revenue, however, was $32.58 billion, slightly above expectations.

AT&T says half of its wireless subscribers have already moved to "Mobile Share Value" plans, introduced in February. It's also adding subscribers to its Next plans, which carry lower monthly fees because customers pay full price for their phones.

Executives are defending the new Next and Mobile Share Value plans, saying they boosted the number of new customers to the highest level in five years.

AT&T, the second-largest cellphone company, is dueling with No. 4 T-Mobile US, which has shaken up the industry with innovative pricing plans.

EARNS-FACEBOOK

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) -- Facebook is on a roll. The world's largest online social network posted sharply higher earnings on Wednesday as revenue from mobile advertising continued to grow, and more people used it, more often.

The company's shares climbed nearly 4 percent in extended trading after the results came out, signaling that they could hit a record high when the stock market opens on Thursday. Investors who bought -- and held on to -- Facebook stock during the company's initial public offering two years ago are now close to doubling their money.

Facebook Inc. (FB) said Wednesday that it earned $788 million, or 30 cents per share, in the April-June period. That's up from $331 million, or 13 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Adjusted earnings were 42 cents per share, handily beating Wall Street's expectations of 33 cents, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.

Facebook's revenue jumped 61 percent to $2.91 billion, also beating expectations.

ARGENTINA-DEBT

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina's president says her country will not default because it has paid its debts to bondholders.

The government is in negotiations to resolve a dispute with some creditors over $1.5 billion in unpaid debts that could lead to the country's second default in 13 years.

But President Cristina Fernandez said Wednesday that a new term for default will have to be created to refer to "a debtor that paid and someone who blocked it."

She was referring to a U.S. judge's order that Argentina can't pay investors who accepted lower-valued bonds after a 2001 default unless it also pays off bondholders who didn't participate in the bond swap.

Many of the latter are hedge funds that bought Argentine bonds on the cheap following Argentina's record $100 billion default in 2001.

S&P-MORTGAGE RATINGS

SEC considering action against S&P over ratings

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Standard & Poor's says regulators have told the rating agency they are considering taking civil enforcement action against it over ratings it gave to six deals in 2011 involving securities tied to commercial mortgages.

S&P's parent McGraw Hill Financial Inc. disclosed Wednesday in a regulatory filing that it has received a so-called "Wells Notice" from staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The notice indicates the staff will recommend to the five-member commission that it pursue action against S&P for alleged violations of securities laws.

Under SEC procedure, S&P will be able to make its case to the agency on the issues raised by the notice.

New York-based McGraw Hill says S&P has been cooperating with the SEC in the matter and will continue to do so.

NASA ROCKET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal auditors say NASA doesn't have enough money to start launching its new, $12 billion rocket program by the end of 2017 as planned.

The congressional Government Accountability Office on Wednesday issued a report saying NASA's new Space Launch System is at high risk of missing its planned December 2017 initial test flight. The post-space shuttle program would build the biggest rockets ever to send astronauts to asteroids and Mars.

The report said NASA's own officials told the GAO that there is a 90 percent chance they can't meet the launch date with current funding.

Report author Cristina Chaplain said it's not that NASA has busted its budget for the program because of technical problems. It's just that NASA didn't get enough money to carry out the massive undertaking.

SOCIAL SECURITY-COMPUTER WOES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims.

Nearly $300 million later, an internal report says the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement.

The project is still in the testing phase, and the agency can't say when it will be completed or how much it will cost.

In the meantime, people filing for disability claims face long delays at nearly every step of the process -- delays that were supposed to be reduced by the new processing system.

The report was commissioned by Social Security to save the project. It was done by consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

advertisement