North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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AG halts deceptive mailings from Local Records Office

Release date: 11/30/2012

Letters claim consumers need to pay California company $89 for property deeds

Raleigh: A California company must stop sending misleading letters to North Carolina consumers, trying to get them to pay $89 for a copy of a property deed available for free or at little cost from their local government, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
 
“Trying to trick people into paying for free public records isn’t honest business,” Cooper said. “Consumers let us know about these letters and now we’re taking action to stop them.”
 
Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr. on Thursday agreed with the Attorney General’s request to temporarily bar LA Investors and its agent Juan Roberto Romero Ascencio from sending the letters to North Carolina residents or processing any payments from them. Cooper is seeking a permanent ban on the mailings, refunds for consumers who paid the fee, and civil penalties.
 
As alleged in the complaint, North Carolinians report getting letters from “Local Records Office” telling them to send $89 in order to get a copy of their property deed. While the letters look official, they come from a California company and not a government agency. The letters tell consumers to send payment to an address in Raleigh, which is actually a mail drop at the UPS Store in Cameron Village Shopping Center. 
 
The UPS Store is cooperating with the investigation, and the company may have begun sending letters using another mail drop address located in Washington, DC. The United States Postal Inspection Service is helping Cooper’s office investigate the case.
 
Cooper contends that LA Investors routinely sets up mail drops across the country, usually in state capitals, and then sends out similar letters to people who have recently been involved in a real estate transaction. The letters include language such as “respond promptly” and a respond by date to make the matter seem urgent.
 
Cooper’s office issued a warning about the misleading mailings earlier this month, informing consumers that copies of property deeds are available for free or at little cost from their local Register of Deeds. People involved in a real estate transaction routinely get copies of their filed deeds from their closing attorneys shortly after their deed is recorded.
 
The Attorney General’s Office has seen other scams in years past run by businesses with names that sound like official government agencies, such as State Records Retrieval Service, which sent similar property deed mailings, Corporate Services, which claimed that businesses owed it $125 for failing to file their corporate minutes, and The Mandatory Poster Agency, which claimed to sell workplace labor law notices that are really available for free.
 
“Scammers know a mailing that looks like it comes from a government official will get your attention,” Cooper warned. “Don’t respond to an unexpected letter asking you for money without checking it out thoroughly, and don’t pay good money for something you can get for free.”



Media contact:  Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413