(CN) – A judge in San Diego ordered two ripoff artists who tried to bilk nearly a million California businesses by billing them $150 each for fake corporate minutes services to pay $1.2 million in restitution and penalties.
Between July 2007 and November 2008, Gaston Muhammad, 42, and Ronna Green, 41, of Duluth, Ga., sent 986,000 bogus letters, threatening small businesses with loss of their corporate status if they did not pay, Attorney General Brown said.
The letters looked like State of California official forms – specifically, the Secretary of State’s “Annual Statement of Information.” The letters bore seals, official-sounding names, corporation numbers, citations, and a return address in Sacramento – a mail drop.
Muhammad and Green promised to prepare annual minutes for the corporations in accordance with the information on the forms, but made up the dates, meeting places, participants, and actions taken in the minutes they created.
Brown sued in May 2008, charging violations of business practice codes and false advertising. In June, the Superior Court found the letters misleading.
Judge John S. Meyer issued a permanent injunction against Green, Muhammad, and their businesses, Castleberrie Inc. and Rahman Corp.