N.D. AG alleges consumer fraud violations

Bryan Cohen Feb. 20, 2012, 1:41pm


BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline) - North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced a cease and desist order on Friday against UST Development Inc. and David Bell for alleged violations of the state's consumer fraud laws.

Stenehjem's Consumer Protection Division received multiple complaints from private businesses and local government agencies in the state regarding allegations that UST, also known as US Telcom, US Telecom and UST, is sending invoices for an agreement about telecom maintenance that the entities have not purchased or solicited.

"The Better Business Bureau has received 184 complaints against UST since August," Stenehjem said. "With the North Dakota complaints, I am immediately banning this business from conducting these fraudulent solicitations in North Dakota."

According to Stenehjem, the number of complaints with the Better Business Bureau rose from 180 to 184 in the past day alone.

The division is looking into the allegedly fraudulent solicitations and has yet to receive any response from UST.

Parrell Grossman, the director of the division, said that phony invoice solicitations are a major concern because schemes of that nature are often very successful.

"Employees of local governmental agencies and private businesses often unwittingly approve these invoices and process payment because the invoices look legitimate and they assume the services were previously approved by another staff member," Grossman said.

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