Mich. AG Claims Firm Bills for Bogus Services

     (CN) – Internet company Websitebackup LLC potentially scammed hundreds of thousands of businesses by sending them deceptive invoices for services it did not perform, Michigan’s attorney general says.
     In a complaint filed July 24, Attorney General Bill Schuette says he first learned of the company’s alleged activities when he was approached by four Michigan businesses claiming they each received a $70 invoice from Websitebackup for services they did not purchase and which were not performed.
     “The documents suggest an ongoing relationship between Websitebackup Company and the recipients,” Schuette says in the complaint. “They include the names of both companies and an ‘account number.’ The documents also suggest a due date for payment” and include “a detachable portion that a recipient would recognize as a payment coupon to be return with a check or money order.”
     The attorney general says that while fine print on the back of the documents suggest the mailing could be an offer, Websitebackup does not explicitly explain that the document is not a bill, but an offer of its services.
     “As a result, many local businesses across the State were deceived,” the complaint says.
     Schuette says that Websitebackup did not just target businesses, but also sent its “invoices” to churches and government agencies.
     He also said Michigan law also requires that “[b]efore transacting business in this state, a foreign limited liability company shall obtain a certificate of authority” from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which Websitebackup failed to do.
     The complaints says Schuette’s office reached out to Websitebackup, asking it to “explain whether the invoice related to any services that were being provided to the complaining business, or to services it intended to provide” and also requests it identify all Michigan businesses that had paid the $70.
     To date, the attorney general says, he has received no response from the company.
     Schuette says that since he began his inquiries, he’s learned that United States Postal Inspector’s office is also investigating the company.
     He asserts that both he and the postal service believe Websitebackup is controlled by co-defendant Raechel Packard of Oregon, and that the company is “a mere instrumentality in a scheme designed to improve her own financial position.”
     The attorney general seeks civil penalties, a permanent injunction, and compensatory and punitive damages on claims of conversion, nuisance, fraudulent misrepresentation, and lack of authorization to do business in Michigan.
     Neither Packard Nor Websitebackup could be reached for comment.

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