Bryan Cohen Dec. 3, 2012, 6:40pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced a temporary order Friday that will prevent a California company from sending misleading letters to consumers in North Carolina.

LA Investors and Juan Roberto Romero Ascencio, the company's agent, allegedly sent misleading letters to consumers, attempting to get them to pay $89 for a copy of a property deed that is available at little cost or for free from the local government. Cooper secured a temporary ban on the mailings and the processing of payments from the letters on Thursday.

Cooper is seeking a permanent ban on the mailings, as well as civil penalties and refunds for consumers who paid the fees.

"Trying to trick people into paying for free public records isn't honest business," Cooper said. "Consumers let us know about these letters and now we're taking action to stop them."

North Carolinians allegedly received letters from the Local Records Office telling them to send $89 to get a copy of their property deed. The letters appeared official but are not from a government agency. The letters provided an address in Raleigh, which is a mail drop at a UPS Store in the Cameron Village Shopping Center.

Cooper alleges that LA Investors sets up mail drops across the country, often in state capitals, and sent out similar letters to people who were recently involved in a real estate transaction.

Cooper's office issued a warning about the mailings earlier in November and informed consumers that they could obtain property deed copies for free or at little cost from the Register of Deeds.

"Scammers know a mailing that looks like it comes from a government official will get your attention," Cooper said. "Don't respond to an unexpected letter asking you for money without checking it out thoroughly, and don't pay good money for something you can get for free."

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