Two Florida-based companies have been ordered to pay nearly $25 million in penalties for violating the Consumer Protection Act in a labor poster scam, according to the Washington State Attorney General’s office.

More than 15,000 Washington business owners who received the deceitful solicitations and paid $85 for labor posters from these companies will be repaid in full with interest.

The judge found that the two companies, CA Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance, sent more than 230,000 deceptive letters to Washington business owners. Those letters were designed to look like they were sent from official government agencies and demanded payment for posters to keep the businesses compliant with state and federal laws.

While businesses with one or more employees are required by law to display certain posters, operators are not required to purchase these posters. They are downloadable for free from the agencies’ websites.

Lawsuits against the two companies were filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson in March.

A judge recently ordered the two companies to pay $24.8 million for deceiving Washington small business owners. More than 15,000 business owners will receive $1.27 million in restitution.

What you need to know to protect yourself

Among the many benefits of being a member of the Washington Hospitality Association, you receive one complimentary labor poster every January. Additional posters can be purchased for $8.

Poster scams are not new. Similar judgments against out-of-state poster scam companies were handed down in 2016. While the judge permanently blocked the two Florida defendants from sending any further deceitful mailings to Washington business owners, other labor poster scam artists may emerge. Be vigilant with any solicitations you receive.

Labor posters required by the government are always available for free from the issuing federal, state and local agencies. Posters are downloadable from the agencies’ websites. We have links to these posters on our website.

If you suspect your business is the target of a scam, contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-551-4636 or you can file a complaint online.