On Wednesday the Alameda County District Attorney filed a lawsuit against a man who purchased 233 fictitious business names and then demanded those businesses to pay him in order to keep their names.
The lawsuit against Mark Smith and FBN Brokers alleges he made false, untrue and misleading statements to businesses he tried to collect money from as well as to the County of Alameda when he filed to register those business names.
The news comes as a relief to the nearly 300 businesses on Grand and Piedmont Avenues who received letters from FBN demanded they pay up or lose their names.
“Taking the time to go to court to pursue all the different legal angles is beyond the means of most of us doing this individually. So, when the District Attorney is able to do that, it takes the burden off of us and allows, I think, a more powerful argument against someone like that. He’ committing extortion here,” said Brian Goehry, Owner of Wine on Piedmont.
The D.A.’s Office wants an injunction and a penalty of at least a quarter million dollars.