New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says he plans to sue SmartBuy and its affiliated companies, charging them with targeting soldiers with fraudulent and deceptive business practices.
Cuomo says an investigation by his office determined that the company and its affiliated lenders targeted soldiers with so-called "financing" offers of monthly payments that were actually open-ended loan agreements, costing the soldiers thousands of dollars extra for consumer electronics.
"The specific intent of this business was to target soldiers on the move, fleecing them for thousands of dollars and leaving them with little recourse," Cuomo said. "We have no tolerance for companies or individuals who take advantage of those serving in our military."
Cuomo's office sent a notice of proposed litigation to six affiliated entities, including Frisco Marketing of N.Y., LLC, doing business as SmartBuy and SmartBuy Computers and Electronics; Integrity Financial of North Carolina, Inc.; Britlee, Inc.; GJS Management, Inc.; Rome Finance Company, Inc. and Rome Finance Co. LLC, all owned and/or operated by Fayetteville, N.C.-based John Paul Jordan, Stuart Jordan and Rebecca Wirt, and Concord, California-based William Collins and Ronald Wilson.
The Attorney General's Office claims that the SmartBuy operation "engaged in illegal, deceptive and fraudulent business practices, including but not limited to fraudulently and deceptively selling electronics with financing agreements to federal employees, and in particular, military employees; violating New York State usury and banking laws by engaging in unlicensed lending and charging illegal rates of interest; and violating the State Fair Debt Collection Practices Act."
In 2008, SmartBuy's collective locations across the country brought in between $32 and $36 million, according to Cuomo. Until recently, SmartBuy operated a storefront and kiosk in the Salmon Run Mall. Once the business became aware of the Attorney General's investigation and expected legal action, SmartBuy abruptly shut down the location, Cuomo said.
Cuomo said his investigation has determined that all SmartBuy locations across the country are set up in close proximity to large military establishments and communities.