A King County Superior Court judge has ordered two companies and their owners to pay more than $24.8 million for their unlawful conduct targeting small business owners. The judge determined that both companies’ “entire business model was based upon deceiving small business owners.”
The companies, CA Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance, sent hundreds of thousands of letters to Washington business owners that deceptively appeared to originate from the government. The letters demanded payments for posters or certificates that they deceptively implied were required to purchase. The certificate is not mandatory and available from the state for a fraction of the cost that CA Certificate Service demanded. The posters are available from state and federal agencies for free.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits in March against Florida-based CA Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance and their owners.
In total, the companies sent 232,091 deceptive letters into Washington. More than 15,000 Washington businesses paid approximately $85 to these two companies for a total of $1.27 million. King County Superior Court Judge David Whedbee granted Ferguson’s request that the companies repay Washington businesses in full, plus pre-judgment interest. The amount of pre-judgment interest will be determined at a later hearing.
The court ruled that the two companies committed 232,091 separate violations of the Consumer Protection Act. The court ordered the two companies to pay $23,518,200 in penalties.