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WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has obtained a court order this week to shut down websites operated by two companies that are committing fraud against small businesses.

2 companies offer to file annual reports for businesses but double charge them

Friday, Ferguson's office announced the shutdown of websites run by  EFile Business Inc. and Online Filing LLC and their owner, Wyoming-based Cameron Groom, over illegal business practices.

Back in May, Ferguson sued Groom and his firms for sending over 147,000 deceptive emails and texts to unsuspecting small business owners. Groom's companies offered to file required annual financial reports with the Secretary of State for a fee of $200, when the actual cost from the state is $60.

   Annual reports are a snapshot of a business's financial dealings, investments, and other financial activity that are allowed to be revealed to the public in the interest of transparency.

One business owner whose information was utilized in the lawsuit said he paid the $200 and saw his annual report was filed correctly the next day, but the transaction record showed Groom had paid the $60 with a credit card.  That meant the other $140 was fraudulently taken from the business owner, who said at that point he knew he'd been cheated.

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Groom ignored the lawsuit and has refused to respond, so Ferguson took court action to have the actual websites connected to these two businesses shut down. So far, the total amount of fraud by Groom's companies is at $228,000, according to the AG's office. It is not known if this case will be elevated to criminal status if Groom continues to ignore the lawsuit against him.

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Gallery Credit: Liz Barrett Foster



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