Richmond business owner warns about scam

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Class is in session at Fighting Gravity Fitness, but leading students through aerial workouts is only a small fraction of Audrey Bonafe’s day-to-day responsibilities.

“When you’re a business owner, you’re wearing very many different hats,” explains Bonafe, who has owned and operated the studio since 2014. “It doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to really stop and think about it.”

Bonafe says that is likely what scammers were counting on when they sent her an official-looking letter from the ‘Virginia Council for Corporations.’ It is a $150 invoice for what it calls the ‘2018 Annual Records Solicitation Form.’

Bonafe says it is very similar to correspondence the Virginia State Corporation Commission sends out and even includes Virginia code. It arrived at a time when business owners might expect to receive such a notice, at the beginning of a brand new calendar year.

“Many people can just very quickly pay that and just not even think about it,” she says. “Many businesses can fall for scams like this very quickly.”

Before paying the bill, Bonafe did her research. She learned the Virginia Council for Corporations does not exist, and the Staples Mill Road address it uses is actually a mail box at The UPS Store.

An 8News search of the Virginia Attorney General’s database found complaints about the Virginia Council for Corporations scam dating back to 2015.

Now that it is resurfacing, Bonafe says business owners like herself need to spread the word.

“They’re just here to take your money,” she states.

Anyone who believes they have been scammed is encouraged to contact the Virginia Attorney General’s office. Follow this link to file a complaint.

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