(WSVN) - If you own a company in Florida, you register the corporation with the state. But crooks have discovered it’s easy to go in and change the company to their name. Even more surprising, right now the state can’t stop it, which is why one business turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser
When Marcee moved from Hawaii, she brought a piece of the island culture back to South Florida.
Her dancers, all with Polynesian connections, have entertained South Floridians for years.
Marcee Rodriguez: “Dancing, like shows. Parties, all kinds of things. Everybody has some sort of connection to the island.”
They make you wanna sway.
Marcee has a problem she wants to go away.
Marcee Rodriguez: “And I have a notification that there’s been a change to my Sunbiz.”
In Florida, business owners register their companies with the state. Someone changed the record and said they owned Marcee and her husband’s advance electric company.
Marcee Rodriguez: “I called Sunbiz and they were like, ‘Well, there’s nothing we can do. We only house records.'”
Marcee had to pay to correct the information.
A few days later, the person, using the name Raynold, switched the records again.
Marcee paid to fix it, then the crook paid to change it a third time.
Marcee Rodriguez: “So I called Sunbiz again, I’m like, ‘Hey, this has got to stop, you know.”
Marcee wasn’t sure why someone kept doing it and then she was.
Marcee Rodriguez: “And then I got a notification from Truist, telling me that there’s been an address change. He opened the account, I assume he was next going to ask for a loan.”
Yep. The person putting their electric company in his name had tried to open a bank account in the company name using a different address.
He would then take out a loan, leaving Marcee and her husband to pay it back.
Marcee Rodriguez: “What he told the gentleman that opened his thing, was that he had just bought the company from us.”
Marcee then tried to track down the person using the name Raynold who was coming after them.
Marcee Rodriguez: “And up comes mug shots with all these felonies.”
Marcee says she notified the state and the police, but so far, nothing has happened.
Marcee Rodriguez: “Super frustrating.”
Well, Howard. If you own a company, can anybody just put it in there name?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “As of today, anyone can. It’s a crime, but seldom is anyone prosecuted. And the crook does not own the company just by putting it in their name. But the danger: They can use that fake document to open bank accounts and try to get loans. That’s why people who own corporations need to periodically check to make sure their records have not been altered.”
Miami-Dade Police told us this case is under investigation and they can’t tell us if they are trying to track down the person who is hacking Marcee’s account.
We went to the address the person used as he tried to open a bank account.
Patrick Fraser: “Is there a Raynold that lives here?
But some good news. The state is finally trying to stop the crooks.
A spokesman wrote the legislature is giving us the authority to ‘implement a password protected log-in system for Sunbiz to help business owners protect their assets from bad actors.”
They hope to have it implemented by the end of the year.
Marcee Rodriguez: “That makes me feel awesome. I think it’s time that they did protect people and it shouldn’t be so easy.”
Marcee is convinced the crook has stopped coming after her after that close call at the bank and the attention from Help Me Howard.
Marcee Rodriguez: “Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much.”
Glad things have settled down, Marcee. And the crook must have really felt confident about getting a bank loan, because every time he charged the corporate records of the company, he had to pay a filing fee. So in case, crime didn’t pay.
A company owning you? Ready to dance away from them? Incorporate yourself with us so we can light a fire under them.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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