NC military consumers get $259,000 in refunds, AG Cooper says

NC military consumers get $259,000 in refunds, AG Cooper says

By / State News / Tuesday, 23 February 2016 00:00

231 NC consumers received cash relief through AG’s settlement with Rome Finance

Raleigh, N.C. : February 17th, 2016 - 231 North Carolina military service-members who were caught in an electronics financing scam with Rome Finance have gotten $259,000 of their money back, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“Our military men and women deserve a fair deal when they spend their money,” Cooper said. “Unscrupulous businesses that try to rip off military families aren’t welcome in North Carolina.”
Refund checks worth approximately $1,120 each were mailed to 231 eligible consumers in North Carolina on December 15, 2015 as part of a 2014 settlement  that Cooper’s office reached with Rome Finance, which also operated as Colfax Capital Corporation and Culver Capital, LLC. The cash refunds are in addition to approximately $6.8 million in debt forgiveness for more than 1,300 North Carolina service-members. The companies financed debts for military consumers who purchased computers, gaming systems and other electronics, including those sold by SmartBuy, an electronics retailer that charged thousands of military personnel inflated prices. SmartBuy operated a chain of retail stores in shopping malls near military bases around the country, including locations near Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune.
Sales personnel allegedly targeted military consumers, including many who were young or learning how to manage a salary for the first time, and tricked them into paying two to three times what the computers and other electronics were really worth. Rome, Colfax or Culver financing representatives allegedly used confusing paperwork and pushy sales tactics to rope consumers into excessive financing agreements with interest rates upwards of 200 percent, far in excess of North Carolina lending laws. Customers were left with bad credit and mountains of debt.   
Consumer relief
Across the world, the settlement resulted in nearly $92 million in debts forgiven for approximately 17,000 U.S. military service-members, including around $6.8 million owed by 1,328 North Carolina service-members. The defendants were required to clear all related negative items related from military consumers’ credit reports and consumers were allowed to keep the merchandise they purchased. The agreement also liquidated Rome Finance and banned Colfax, Culver, and two of their owners, Ronald Wilson and William Collins, from the consumer lending business.
 Help for military consumers
Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division fights unfair business practices like scams and frauds and bad business deals. Military personnel and their family members who experience problems are encouraged to file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or filling out the complaint form at ncdoj.gov.
“Service-members keep us safe and contribute enormously to North Carolina’s economy,” Cooper said. “My office is here to protect military consumers from scams and help them when they encounter problems.”
 Cooper’s office has also put together a guide for military consumers, available at http://ncdoj.gov/military  and distributed to military installations statewide.

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