Bryan Cohen Jun. 17, 2013, 6:11pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a lawsuit Friday against a Davie-based company for allegedly misrepresenting itself as the Department of State and stealing money from state businesses.

Florida Center of Corporations and Thomas Fred Jr., the company's owner, allegedly deceived companies and sent them letters that implied the companies had to pay additional fees to become corporations. The companies were already corporations under the Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations. Bondi alleged that since February, more than 12,000 businesses in Florida paid fees to the company in response to the deceptive mailings.

"A company misrepresenting itself as a state entity and obtaining funds based on that deception is violating the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act," Bondi said. "Thousands of Florida businesses have been harmed, and my office is committed to stopping this deceptive activity."

Florida Center of Corporations allegedly sent mailings that resembled documents from the Division of Corporations that stated the businesses needed to pay $45 to $54 to officially become corporations. The mailings allegedly claimed the payment must be mailed in for the business to obtain official state documents.

Bondi's lawsuit requests that the court enjoin the company from doing business and require Fred to pay restitution to consumers.

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