Florida scam alert
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jul. 16, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Starting a new business is hard enough, now scam artists are out to ruin all your hard work.
One local man is striking out on his own - but nearly got duped before he's even open for business.
It looks official, just one more document a local businessman "thought" he had to pay to get his business licenses.
And, even though it looks legit- it isn't.
A table top covered with paper work - Jim Miller has jumped through a lot of hoops and paid a lot of filing fees with the state so he can open up a new air conditioning business.
So it didn't seem out of the ordinary when he got an official looking letter that said "you have one step left in order to be fully certified." All it asked was for just another small check for $56.00.
In Miller's eyes he said "it looks legitimate... everything reads like its from the state of florida."
The only problem, it wasn't.
Jim had been filing his paperwork with the the Florida Division of Corporation. An official branch of the state government.
But this letter was from the Florida Center of Corporation. Its a private company, that doesn't have the power to issue any licenses.
We showed it to the director of Southwest Florida Enterprise Center. director tom scott helps new businesses get off the ground.
Tom Scott said "its an unnecessary thing they were providing in my judgement."
He's not alone in questioning its legitimacy.
The Florida Center of Corporation has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
And several other consumer websites call it nothing more than a scam.
For Jim, there were a number of things that made him suspicious.
One, it included a self-addressed envelope to Davie Florida - not Tallahassee.
Miller added that "the state would never send me an envelope to remit payment."
Also... they wanted him to include the security code on the back of his credit card.
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office said they've filed a temporary injunction against the center.
And, if anyone has been contacted by the center, they should contact the A-G'S office.
Fox 4 made a call to the Florida Center of Corporation to get their side of the story... their phone number was disconnected.