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Someone knocked on my door to offer landscape services, they call themselves "Landscapers LLC" (just an example, I do not want to put the actual name they used) and the paper ad they gave me also says "Landscapers LLC". They claimed to be a local business in Ohio (they even list a local PO Box as the address). They seemed a bit shady, so I called the Ohio Secretary of State and I was told there is no such business registered with them.

Is that business or person breaking any law? Can they operate/advertise as "Landscapers LLC" even though they did not register?

  • I reckon this boils down to whether lying in this particular scenario is illegal. See law.stackexchange.com/questions/27383/when-is-it-illegal-to-lie – Greendrake Nov 3 at 19:32
  • The key may be why they are doing this. Are they hiding their actual identity so they can disappear if something goes wrong or did they make a bureaucratic mistake? – George White Nov 3 at 22:30
  • If they were a real LLC then they wouldn't have to disappear if something goes wrong. – gnasher729 Nov 3 at 23:00
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It would not constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice as defined in ORC 1345.02, which lists a number of specific prohibited false acts (regarding how you represent the goods or services). ORC 4165 also prohibits a number of trade mark related acts which are mostly about other irrelevant things, but business name is included in 4165.02(A)(5) – however, that has a number of specific requirements such as that the name be listed in a phone directory, presents false geographical information ("Columbus Landscapers" operating only in Akron), and the name has to be fictitious, not simply "mistaken". It may be that they are not aware that they are not registered with the SoS. They also may be a foreign LLC rather than an Ohio LLC.

  • They may also be running a scam. – Dale M Nov 3 at 21:44
  • They explicitly say they are a local business. By "It may be that they are not aware that they are not registered with the SoS." do you mean that they can operate and call themselves "Landscapers LLC" without the need to register. – Alan Nov 3 at 21:59
  • If they gave you fake references "we landscaped the gardens X, Y, and Z, and here are the photos proving how good we are", then there is a good chance that you wouldn't have hired them if you had known the truth. But (falsely) claiming to be an LLC doesn't exactly give you much reason to hire them. Actually, if something goes wrong, you may have stronger rights against a private person claiming to be an LLC than against a proper LLC. – gnasher729 Nov 3 at 23:10

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