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Jewelry Chain Sued for Alleged Illegal Business Practices

It’s accused of preying on servicemembers.

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WATERTOWN, NY – New York’s attorney general has hit Harris Jewelry with a lawsuit claiming that the chain “used servicemembers as pawns in a predatory scheme.”

In a press release, Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood’s office states that the retailer, which has dozens of locations across the country, engaged in “false and deceptive acts and illegal lending in the financing of jewelry sales to active-duty servicemembers.”

“My office will not tolerate companies that seek to take advantage of New Yorkers in order to line their own pockets,” said Underwood.

Harris Jewelry said in a statement:

“Harris Jewelry will vigorously contest the inaccurate and baseless allegations raised by the New York State Attorney General. Harris Jewelry operates in full compliance with the laws that regulate our industry. Harris Jewelry stands behind its decades-old business model.  The New York Attorney General has unfortunately reached the wrong conclusions about our business and the work we do.

“For more than 60 years, Harris Jewelry has sold quality jewelry and watches to active duty military personnel, Reservists, National Guard, and Retirees. Today, the company continues to honor that tradition and enables its customers to purchase quality jewelry designed specifically for them, and to do so on credit terms customized to meet their needs.”

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The lawsuit is the result of an ongoing multistate investigation co-led by New York and Tennessee.

Specifically, it charges that Harris Jewelry allegedly engages in unfair, abusive, false and deceptive acts and practices, deceptive credit repair services, and illegal lending in the financing of jewelry sales to active-duty servicemembers. The company, headquartered in Hauppauge, NY, has stores near, and in some cases on, military bases around the country.

It is alleged that Harris Jewelry targets and then entices local servicemembers into the stores with “Operation Teddy Bear” — a purported charitable program in which Harris Jewelry sells teddy bears in military uniforms with promises of charitable donations.

In fact, “the complaint alleges that this is nothing more than a marketing ploy to dupe servicemembers into high-priced, illegal in-house financing contracts for vastly overpriced jewelry,” according to the release.

Harris Jewelry sells lines of military-themed jewelry and other commemorative items such as the “Mother’s Medal of Honor,” “Token of Pride Coin” and “Forever as One Dog Tag Necklace” on credit it provides under the name Consumer Adjustment Corp. USA, according to the release.

According to the release: “In reality, Consumer Adjustment Corp. is merely the alter ego of Harris Originals of NY, Inc., a relationship that, the Attorney General alleges, is never clearly disclosed to the consumer and is used to finance more than 90% of its sales.”

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The complaint further alleges that Harris Jewelry tells servicemembers it can provide them with an opportunity to build or improve their credit score through “The Harris Program” — the company’s own financing. Only after the servicemember agrees to participate in this “credit-improving program” does Harris Jewelry begin to discuss jewelry or its other products with the servicemember in an effort to max out the credit limit, the press release states.

The complaint alleges that Harris Jewelry advertises “quality” jewelry on “fair” terms, but in reality, marks up its jewelry between 600 percent and 1,000 percent over its wholesale price compared with the industry standard of 200 percent to 300 percent. It says the company then attaches an additional interest rate of 14.99 percent on the financing contract, “thereby disguising its inflated profit-taking and the true cost of the items,” according to the release.

For example, Harris Jewelry allegedly purchases the popularly sold “Mother’s Medal of Honor” for $77.70 and then sells it for $799 plus warranties and interest, according to the release. The “Forever as One Dog Tag Necklace” is allegedly purchased at $97 and sold for $699 plus warranties and interest.

Harris Jewelry’s use of a “per payday” advertised price on its merchandise further prevents the servicemember from calculating the total cost of a Harris Jewelry transaction over the life of the contract, according to the release. These unlawful business practices are alleged to have been secured through misrepresentations and omissions in advertising and during the loan’s origination.

Operation Troop Aid Inc., the original charitable partner in Operation Teddy Bear, voluntarily dissolved and was assessed a suspended penalty earlier this year in a settlement with the New York Attorney General and other states, resolving potential charges of improper charitable co-venture activities, failures to account for donations and distribution of funds, and other deceptive practices, according to the release.

The multistate investigation is being conducted by lead states New York and Tennessee, executive committee states Nevada and North Carolina, and participating states Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

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Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Jeweler Pummels Would-Be Robber with Martial Arts — Watch the Video

The 74-year-old store owner used Israeli Krav Maga.

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A 74-year-old jeweler in Hollywood, FL, used Krav Maga, an Israeli martial arts style, to fight off a would-be robber.

Daniel Stetton, owner of DHS Oakwood Jewelers, said the man had bought a gold chain months ago, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Stetton offered to fix it, but the man wanted a replacement.

Stetton refused, and the man went behind the counter to grab a new chain himself.

Stetton confronted him, employing some of the Krav Maga he learned while serving in the Israeli Army decades ago.

The incident was captured on surveillance video.

He said he had no choice but to protect his business.

“I didn’t expect I would have to use it one day,” the Sun-Sentinel quoted him saying. “But, what are you going to do?”

Stetton’s wife joined the fray, swinging a yardstick at the culprit.

The man, looking dazed, grabbed his broken chain and left the store.

Police are looking for the suspect.

Read more at the Sun-Sentinel

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Jeff Unger, President of Alisa Unger Designs and Long-Time INSTORE Contributor, Dies at Age 57

He fought cancer for 10 years and inspired many with his resilience and positive attitude.

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Jeff Unger

Jeff Unger, president and co-owner of B & N Jewelry (d.b.a. Alisa Unger Designs) with his wife Alisa, passed away due to complications caused by renal carcinoma cancer on February 7, 2019 at the age of 57.

Jeff was an avid golfer, and when he was diagnosed with cancer, he became the coach for a local high school golf team at Weber High. He spent the last 10 years of his life teaching the game he loved to kids and adults with disabilities via the Adaptive Golf program and the MDE School. He loved his wife, Alisa, dearly and was married just shy of 33 years. Together they had two children, Brandi and Jason. As a family, they loved to travel, try new restaurants, spend time together, and most importantly, laughed together.

Jeff served as treasurer for the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association (SJTA), which produces the Atlanta Jewelry Show. He was also one of the founders of the Prime Jewelry Group.

Throughout his life, Jeff gave back to his community and to causes close to his heart. After losing a sister and sister-in-law to breast cancer, Jeff and Alisa started the foundation, Me & My Two Friends, which still runs today, donating money to breast cancer research.

Jeff fought cancer for 10 years, but not without a smile on his face. His outstanding resilience and unquenchable thirst for life were deeply inspirational to all that knew him.

Here at INSTORE, we knew Jeff as a shrewd person of business and in life, and as a friendly face we could always count on seeing at industry trade shows. Jeff contributed many columns over the years to INSTORE, writing from a supplier’s perspective and calling on both retailers and suppliers to improve communication and their working relationships. He authored a monthly e-newsletter called “The Mind Massage,” in which he would write on various business-related topics, often relating his advice back to the game of golf and almost always encouraging his readers to smile more and to connect with their fellow humans. We will miss him.

Read one of our favorite Jeff Unger columns, “Just Say Hello,” here.

And read more of Jeff’s writing for INSTORE here.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the following organizations:

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Newspaper Tracks Down Billionaire Jeweler Suspected in $2B Fraud

Nirav Modi has been staying in a high-dollar London apartment.

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British newspaper The Telegraph tracked down Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweler who’s suspected in a $2 billion fraud case in India, in London.

He’s been staying in a high-dollar apartment in London’s West End, according to the newspaper.

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Last year, The New York Times described Modi as being “on the run” and noted that figuring out his location had become something of a “national pastime” in India.

He’s remained at-large despite Interpol’s issuance of a reed notice for his arrest in July, The Telegraph reports.

The newspaper, which has described Modi as “India’s most wanted man,” posted a video of the jeweler on Twitter, with Modi replying “sorry, no comment” to a reporter’s questions.

The New York Times reports that India is waiting for a reply from Britain regarding an extradition request. The Telegraph later reported that that the UK had agreed to the extradition.

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Modi is at the center of a fraud case involving Punjab National Bank, where employees are “suspected to have steered fraudulent loans” to Modi’s businesses, Reuters has reported.

Modi is apparently involved in a new new diamond business in the UK, according to The Telegraph.

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