OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against a California company and its principal after they allegedly misled business owners by charging for free government-issued posters.

Labor Standards Compliance Office and Fangliang Cui, the company's principal, allegedly violated the Washington State Consumer Protection Act by sending an official-looking letter to business owners implying the companies must buy required workplace posters for $295 or face audits and fines. While private vendors may sell the required posters, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and other government agencies provide the posters for free.

The mass mailing confused business owners who assumed the letter was from L&I, which was not the case.

"The attorney general's office protects business owners who play by the rules and pursues bad actors who don't," Ferguson said. "This scam is one of the worst because it preys on business owners who are trying to do the right thing. Business owners should always feel comfortable calling the attorney general's office if they suspect a scam."

Ferguson's office received 84 complaints from businesses about LSCO and the mass mailing. The lawsuit alleges LSCO created an impression that the solicitation came from a government agency, created a false sense of urgency for consumers and created an impression that the solicitation was a bill the consumer must pay.

Ferguson's lawsuit seeks restitution for consumers and attorney costs and fees.

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