Indiana Secretary of State Declares Victory in Two Year Fight with Phony Billing Companies
Judge orders over $800,000 in fines and restitution against two individuals masquerading as state agency officials at the center of Indiana Secretary of State and Attorney General joint investigation.
INDIANAPOLIS (July 18, 2011) – On the heels of the 2011 National Association of Secretaries of State Summer Conference, Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White announced today that a two year investigation carried out by his office and the Indiana Attorney General has resulted in over $800,000 in fines and restitution to be paid by two California-based scam artists who preyed upon Indiana business owners. A case that can serve as an example for other states around the country seeking to stop what has become a recurring problem for officials charged with overseeing the creation and upkeep of state corporations.
The scammers, Aaron Vincent Williams and Lisa Diane Newberry, ran two corporations – International Corporate Marketing, Inc. and Papillon Global Marketing, LLC – for the sole purpose of sending businesses false compliance notices. Indiana companies were sent misleading notices disguised as official government correspondence, soliciting payment of money to keep businesses compliant with state regulations.
Unsuspecting business owners and harried bookkeepers would then obediently send the requested $100-150 payments to post office boxes located in Indianapolis that would be automatically forwarded to the scam headquarters in California. As a result, many businesses found themselves out the “required” amount and sometimes out of compliance with the state – thinking any required paperwork had been submitted.
While similar scam operations have arisen in the past, Indiana drew a line in the sand and set out to uncover the extensive and complicated information necessary to gain a judgment against Williams and Newberry. The cooperation between the Offices of the Indiana Secretary of State and Attorney General led to judgments of $320,850 against Newberry and Papillion Global Marketing, LLC and $514,800 against Williams and International Corporate Marketing, Inc.
“Our National Association of Secretaries of State keeps us updated on similar scams in other states,” White said. “We know we’ve been targeted before, but instead of just issuing an alert, Indiana took a stand and invested the time and resources into creating a blueprint to go after these bad actors in the future and in other states.”
White’s hope is that other states look to this case as an example of how to go after this particular type of scam – something proactive and defining rather than the typical alert.
“This judgment is meant to send a message to those thinking Indiana is ripe for the picking when it comes to this type of scam,” White said. “We’re on to you, we now have a game plan to fight you, and we will win. We’re going to share this with all others who seek our assistance.”
White added that the favorable judgment could not have been made possible without the assistance of Deputy Attorney General Jeremy Comeau and his office’s special investigator John Barrett.” Indiana victims will be eligible to receive restitution if and when it is collected from the out-of-state offenders.
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Deputy Chief of Staff
Office of Indiana Secretary of State Charles White