Claremont couple caught up in strange mail fraud scheme
by Steven Felschundneff | email@example.com
A Claremont couple, upset and frustrated after a stranger began using their address to register his businesses, now think they may be unwitting and unwilling participants in some type of fraud, and are perplexed at their inability to get help from the California Secretary of State’s office.
The pair, who asked not to be named to protect their privacy, claim that someone they have never met, who quite possibly is not even a person, is using their Claremont address to register a limited liability corporation and attempting to interfere with the delivery of mail at their home.
They began to receive credit card offers in the mail in 2021 for Baoshan Wang, a name they did not recognize, and someone they do not believe ever lived in their home. They alerted the postman and thought that was the end of it.
But in May 2023 the situation became decidedly more alarming when Wang filed an official change of address request with the United States Post Office to have mail for “current resident or Baoshan Wang” forwarded to another address. The residents informed the postal carrier that Wang had no authority to change their address or forward the mail.
In June they learned Wang had registered his companies — Gannangli LLC and Zonstinu LLC — at their address. An internet search for both business names turns up just the State of California registration. Further confusing the matter is the fact that “Gannan” apparently references the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, an autonomous prefecture in southern Gansu Province, China. As a result of the registrations and apparent Chinese connection, the couple are now concerned they may be caught up in some type of fraud.
Wang’s business application listed the couple’s address for mail delivery, while another Claremont address was listed as the physical address of the business. The couple alerted the residents of the other Claremont home of the possible fraud.
The couple hired an attorney, who contacted the Business Programs Division of the California Secretary of State, asking that the address be removed from Wang’s business registrations. To confirm their identities, they sent copies of their driver’s licenses and other identification.
According to the couple, the response they received was of little help and did not indicate how to stop the alleged fraud.
“It appears you wish to have information included in a business entity redacted or your business entity information removed from the Secretary of State’s business search tool,” read the email the couple received from the Business Programs Division. “Unfortunately, the law does not permit the Secretary of State to remove or redact public records based on the information provided in your email.”
They remain surprised that anyone can register a business with the state using any random address, and that there appears to be no system of verification.
While there is no indication that Wang had access to the couple’s personal information, they elected to put a freeze on anyone applying for new credit under their names.
According to the United States Postal Service, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country. The USPS website, uspis.gov/tips-prevention, has an extensive list of ways consumers can protect themselves from mail fraud.
Those tips include: never sharing personal information including name, date of birth or Social Security number with someone you don’t know, particularly if they call or email out of the blue; deposit outgoing mail into the blue post office collection bins as near to the pick up time as possible; do not leave mail in your mailbox overnight; sign your credit card as soon as you receive it and if a card does not arrive in a timely manner, call the financial institution that issued the card; and monitor credit card expiration dates so you know when thy are scheduled to arrive in the mail.
It’s also wise to monitor your credit and take advantage of the federal government’s free annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. Free weekly reports, which have been offered since the beginning of the pandemic, have been extended until the end of 2023.
According to the AARP, anyone — not just retirees — can request a credit freeze at no charge.
If you have witnessed mail theft or suspect you have been a victim of mail fraud, call the Claremont Police Department at (909) 399-5411. You can also report any suspicious activity to the postal inspector’s office at www.uspis.gov/report.