(WSVN) - They worked hard to build their successful company. They are still doing very well, but they have been dealt a curveball they never expected — an anonymous person using their address, pretending to be them and charging their customers credit cards. It’s very difficult to stop, and it’s why they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
I bet it’s happened to you … sitting there thinking, “If I could just come up with one great idea to start my own business…”
Sheila Boyce, DeepStream Designs, Inc: “So my husband had a ‘Ah ha!’ moment sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Milan looking at an old rotting planter, and he said, ‘I can build something that will be beautiful.'”
The result … Sheila and her husband created DeepStream Designs making large planter boxes, benches and trash bins.
Sheila Boyce: “Our customers include Disney, Yankee Stadium and the NFL headquarters, and the Pentagon. So we have a lot of very exciting projects.”
DeepStream Designs has built a great reputation, which makes what’s happening very frightening to Sheila.
Sheila Boyce: “I got a phone call stating there was a credit card charge on their statement.”
The caller said DeepStream had charged them. Sheila said they had not..
An hour later, she discovered someone had used her company’s name to charge many more people’s credit cards.
Sheila Boyce: “This company had apparently had racked up $10,000 of fraudulent charges.”
It was not DeepStream Designs charging the cards … it was Deep Stream Sanchez Design.
Sheila Boyce: “They are using Deep Stream Designs as a shortened version of it, which is our exact name.”
The Deep Stream Sanchez Design was incorporated with the State by an Andres Sanchez.
Sheila Boyce: “And it is a legitimate Florida company as far as the state is concerned.”
The Andres Sanchez, if that’s even a real name, is impossible to contact because that person lists Sheila’s address as the copycat company’s address.
Sheila Boyce: “They are going to think that’s our company, and that will hurt our good name.”
Sheila tried to stop the company from using their name to defraud there customers.
Sheila Boyce: “I have contacted the Division of Cooperations and told them this is a fraudulent company.”
But the state could not stop the copycat company, allowing them to charge credit cards while Sheila gets blamed.
Sheila Boyce: “It totally pisses me off! It makes me angry because people get away with this.”
Well Howard, legally what should Sheila do?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “First, file a police report because a false corporate filing is theft and it’s also fraud. Second, file a notarized statement of fact with the Division of Corporations, which will inform the public that the other corporation is not affiliated with Sheila’s company.”
Sheila called the police to document that she had been a victim of fraud and theft.
We contacted the Division of Corporations where every Florida company has to be registered. We were told they are just a filing agency and do not have the statutory authority to investigate or regulate business filings.
Sheila then filed the notarized statement that read, “Deep Stream Sanchez Design Inc is in no way associated with DeepStream Designs Inc.”
Howard Finkelstein: “By filing a police report and documenting the copycat corporation, Sheila protects herself so if that company steals money from someone, Sheila’s company will not be responsible.”
The copycat company is still out there, but Sheila is relieved that DeepStream Designs is now safe from them.
Sheila Boyce: “I’m very happy we called Help Me Howard because it’s not a simple process to clear your name.”
This is growing problem because its so easy for the crooks to do. And not only is it hurting businesses, it’s affecting their customers because you think you are buying from a legitimate company only to find out you are being ripped off by a copycat company. That’s why its so important to pay with a credit card because at least you can dispute the charge and get your money back.
Someone planted a problem with you? Feel like you are in deep and going upstream? Copy us in on it. And let us incorporate a solution into you life.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org
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