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NC Justice Dept. Investigates Suspicious Fracking Lease Solicitations

A picture of two people shaking hands.

Just a month after the General Assembly voted to allow fracking in North Carolina, landowners in Chapel Hill and Durham are receiving offers to buy the right to drill on their properties.

But these offers are suspicious, and the Department of Justice is investigating them. The documents say they were sent from a Pennsylvania company called Crimson Holding Corporation. It doesn't have a web site, and claims the same address as another company called Campbell Development. Neither is licensed to do business in this state.

Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office sent Crimson a  cease-and-desist letter, addressed to Frank Sides and Anna Campbell of the respective companies, this week.

Cooper said he ultimately wants to protect North Carolinians, who are still unfamiliar with the specifics of fracking.

“We've heard a lot of stories about landmen that took advantage of people in the Midwest and a lot of warnings that might occur in North Carolina if fracking was approved,” Cooper said.

Fracking company solicitors, called landmen, are required to register with the state. They need to offer you at least 12.5 percent in royalties for your mineral rights, agree to a maximum 10-year contract, and give you a week to back out of it.  

Cooper said it appears no one affiliated with Crimson has done so. He says he worried people will get ripped off.

'We want to warn people that they need to take steps to protect themselves. If someone solicits you, you should contact an attorney.' - Roy Cooper, NC Attorney General

“We want to warn people that they need to take steps to protect themselves. If someone solicits you, you should contact an attorney. You should talk to a mortgage lender. You should educate yourself on what's fair, what's a fair price, the potential damage that's going to be done to your land.”

Cooper also recommends reaching out to the state’s consumer protection specialist (1-877-5-NO-SCAM) to ensure a drilling company is legitimate.

He also suggest talking to your neighbors before allowing companies to drill on your land, as it could affect them, too.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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