When a company doing business as the West Virginia Labor Law Poster Service approached employers about purchasing the state’s required workplace safety and employee rights posters, many were quick to pull out their checkbooks. However, what the employers didn’t know was that they could get the posters for free from the government.

“This business is masquerading as a governmental organization in order to sell posters for outrageous amounts,” said Attorney General Darrell McGraw in a press release. “This deception is particularly problematic because the posters are free from legitimate government agencies.”

In May McGraw sued the company alleging that it advertised the posters to employers without clearly disclosing that companies could obtain the posters for free from the government.

Some people who purchased the posters assumed the company was a state agency, when in fact the company was located in Michigan and only had a post office box in West Virginia. The company charged $59.50 per poster set plus $5.75 for shipping and handling.

On Sept. 1, the Lansing, Mich.-based company settled in West Virginia’s Kanawha County Circuit Court by agreeing to issue refunds to dissatisfied customers.

This is McGraw’s second run in with the company. In 2001 he investigated the same company, which at the time was operating under the name West Virginia Mandatory Poster Agency.

The investigation ended in a signed agreement with the company, in which it promised to clarify that customers could obtain the posters free of charge from appropriate governmental agencies and that it in fact was not a government agency. The poster company allegedly ignored the agreement and sent out similar solicitations in 2005.