Scam targets Arizona businesses

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PHOENIX -- If you operate a business, big or small, 3 On Your Side has a warning about a huge scam that's out there right now.

I have to say that this is probably one of the most clever scams I've seen in a long time. I say that for a couple of reasons, mainly because it doesn't target consumers. Instead, it targets businesses in the state of Arizona.

Cori Ferguson owns a small consulting business in the West Valley. So when she received a letter recently asking her to update her business information with the state of Arizona, it got her attention.

"It looked very official," Ferguson said. "It came with the Arizona Corporate Headquarters information at the top of the envelope."

Arizona Corporate Headquarters wanted Ferguson to fill out a brief document and then, in order for her business to stay in good standing with the state, Ferguson was supposed to mail in a check for $125.

"They're talking about an annual fee of $125 that is due by Dec. 5, 2008," Ferguson said.

Ferguson was skeptical and it's a good thing she was because Arizona Corporate Headquarters is in no way affiliated with the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state agency that facilitates businesses and organizations in the state.

"It's absolutely outrageous and it's a fraudulent document," Kris Mayes said.

Mayes is an elected official with the Arizona Corporation Commission and 3 On Your Side showed her the document asking businesses for $125.

"What they are trying to do is trick people into sending $125 for something not ever required by the state of Arizona," Mayes said.

Business owners like Ferguson are supposed to mail their money within 15 days and exactly where is Arizona Corporate Headquarters located? Ferguson said it's at 5025 N. Central Ave., Suite 573.

Well, that address is actually a UPS store with mailboxes found inside and Suite 573 is really mailbox 573.

Whoever is collecting all the checks arriving to this mailbox, according to Mayes, is pulling a fast one.

"It is cleverly disguised to deceive Arizona businesses," Mayes said. "It's outrageous."

Ferguson is glad she didn't fall for it and hopes other businesses out there big and small don't fall for it either.

"We're all struggling to make ends meet and something like this comes along, it's just not right," Ferguson said.

By the way, the Arizona Corporation Commission has filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General's Office telling them about this scam.

We'll let you know what, if anything, the AG will do.