A California-based company continued to mail allegedly misleading invoices to metro-east businesses despite lawsuits filed against it by the Illinois and Missouri attorney generals' offices.
The St. Louis Better Business Bureau last week issued a warning that a company identifying itself as US-Telecom Inc., US Telecom, UST Development Inc. or UST. has distributed misleading invoices to businesses, schools and non-profit groups in recent weeks.
The company, which uses addresses in La Verne, Calif., and Ontario, Calif., mails documents in a format commonly used for invoices that contain the description "Telecom maintenance agreement." The documents said $425 is due.
The Illinois and Missouri attorney generals filed lawsuits in 2012 against UST. The Illinois case was filed after the Illinois Attorney General's offices in Belleville and Chicago, as well as several local governments throughout the state, received the documents.
UST told the BBB that it mails the documents to every company in their database each year and the document states that it is not a bill.
The document notes it is not for services rendered, but "that information is the final sentence in a block of text and not set off by bold or larger type," according to the BBB.
More than 970 complaints against the company have been received nationwide by the BBB since 2009. The company has received an "F" rating from the BBB.
The attorney generals of New York, Kentucky and North Dakota issued cease and desist orders to the company in 2012. The Rhode Island Attorney General warned state businesses of the scam in the same year.
Texas Roadhouse in Shiloh and the Catholic Diocese of Belleville are among those locally that received the documents.
Jeff Hefner, managing partner at the Texas Roadhouse, said he also learned that an Omaha location received a similar document. Neither location paid UST.
The Diocese of Belleville could not be reached Friday for comment.