CHARLESTON - State businesses are on alert that letters claiming Attorney General Darrell McGraw is investigating them are in the mail.
But McGraw warned Thursday that the letters are forgeries that contain bad spelling and grammar.
"These fake letters are causing serious harm to the small business community," McGraw said. "Some businesses have even gone to the expense of hiring an attorney.
"We believe there may be follow-up letters or e-mails seeking settlement from the affected business, since most scams are designed to extort money from innocent victims. We have been in contact with federal prosecutors to determine if federal laws have been violated."
The letters have been mailed from different parts of the state and appear on forged letterhead.
Letters claiming to be from McGraw's Consumer Protection Division were not signed by any of McGraw's staffer, which McGraw said would never happen.
McGraw is seeking his fifth term this year and is unopposed in Tuesday's primary. On the Republican side, Dan Greear and Hiram Lewis are hoping to challenge McGraw.
In 2004, Lewis and McGraw had the closest AG race in state history, with both receiving 50 percent of the vote. McGraw won by a few thousand ballots.