Scammers Targeting Colorado Cannabis Businesses with Bogus Report Forms
Cannabis business operators in Colorado are receiving official-looking forms offering to file standard renewal reports for a fee. Local legal firm The Rodman Law Group has warned anyone receiving the forms that the “service” on offer isn’t necessary, and that operators can file state reports themselves with minimal fuss.
Forms Look More Official Than They Are
Several Rodman clients have come forward with fliers they received in the mail. They’re printed deliberately to look like government documents, informing recipients of their reporting obligations and containing a “please respond by” date.
The fliers are also personalized with specific information about the recipient business, including address and registration number.
As the firm wrote on its blog, the information is misleading at best and fraudulent at worst. While cannabis businesses in Colorado do have to file the reports mentioned and list real regulations, they also come with a $75 “processing fee” on top of the standard $10 State fee. However the $10 fee is the only one businesses must legally pay.
As a covering measure, the fliers contain the line “[name redacted] is not a government agency and does not have a contract with any governmental agency to provide this service.” While that may legally protect the firm sending them, it’s in the small print and skirts ethical boundaries by attempting to appear like a government-produced document.
Secretary of State Issues Warning, Says Processes are Actually Cheap and Simple
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office has warned business owners of the scam, calling the fliers “potentially misleading documents”. A notice published online says:
“The Colorado Secretary of State maintains an easy to use online filing system for businesses. Use of a third party to complete filings with the Secretary of State is not required.”
“Please be advised that the Colorado Secretary of State’s office does not send these solicitations.”
The notice also provided a link to official instructions on what’s required and how to do it.
Rodman said Colorado’s business registration system is “wonderfully straightforward”, and comes with minimal costs and bureaucracy compared to that of other states. The Rodman Law Group, LLC has operated out of Colorado for several years, and has personnel with skills and expertise specific to the legal cannabis industry.
The Colorado business renewal ploy is similar to many others seen over the years, which offer to file everyday government reports for a fee, and bear ominous warnings of non-compliance. Individuals also regularly receive warnings about fees, taxes and service expenses from third parties not connected in any way to the actual processes.
The hope is that people and business owners, already saddled with the stresses of daily life, won’t notice a “small” extra charge, and pay it. Clearly, enough have over the years to keep these schemes popular.
If ever you receive such a notice, it always pays to double-check with a lawyer or the government department involved. Doing so will save you time and money, and make scams less profitable.
Have you ever received an official-looking notice like this, or something similar? Tell us about it in the comments, or talk about it on social media.
Images via Colorado Secretary of State’s office, Pixabay