Milwaukee, Wis. – Today, Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil enforcement action against Florida-based Centurian Filing Services, LLC.
Centurian Filing Services, LLC, operating under the name “WI Certificate Service”, is a company that the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been investigating since early 2021.
WI Certificate Service first came to the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau’s attention (BBB) in February, 2021 when a complaint was received from a business questioning a “fraudulent bill.” Between February 2021 and April 2022, BBB received more than 20 similar complaints, reviews and Scam Tracker reports from businesses.
After investigating, BBB sent out an alert in March 2021 warning businesses of the misleading solicitations.
WI Certificate Service operated under an address which BBB discovered was a UPS store. It sent out mailings via postal mail designed to look like invoices from the Secretary of State. The deceptive mailers requested payment of $72.50 for a “Certificate of Status.” That form can be obtained directly from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (WDFI) for $10.
The Wisconsin DOJ’s press release states that the mailers “cheated over 6,000 Wisconsin businesses.”
“BBB is pleased to hear of this lawsuit and is thankful for the Wisconsin businesses that filed complaints and immediately alerted us to these deceptive mailers initially so that we could promptly alert the public and share the information with other agencies,” said Lisa Schiller Director of Investigations for the BBB Wisconsin. “BBB reminds businesses to closely examine all mailings that resemble invoices and to take time to report anything suspicious.”
BBB’s current report on “WI Certificate Service” is an “F”, BBB’s lowest grade, and includes an “alert” at top which can be found here.
To date, BBB has been receiving approximately two inquiries per day on WI Certificate Service, which tells us that people are checking with BBB.org and reading our free reports before doing business.
The Wisconsin DOJ’s lawsuit also names as Defendants Centurion’s principals and owners, Dean Marshlack, David Marshlack, and Brian Capobianco. The lawsuit seeks restitution for businesses harmed by the illegal conduct, civil forfeitures, and to bar Centurion from further violations.
To avoid falling victim to a misleading solicitation, BBB recommends businesses:
- Train employees to follow internal processes and never pay invoices before vetting them and getting authorization to pay.
- Have a solid internal control process for paying invoices. Carefully check invoices against an approved vendor list prior to processing them for payment.
- Question any invoice that does not look familiar and does not match an approved vendor list.
- Check all businesses for free with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org. Report scams and fraud to BBB Scam Tracker.
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For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2021, people turned to BBB more than 200 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 25,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.