New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo yesterday sued a national retailer that he accused of selling grossly overpriced electronics to members of the armed forces, and then steering them into exorbitant payment plans.
Cuomo alleged SmartBuy bought laptops, televisions and gaming systems from retailers such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Costco then marked them up 225 percent to 325 percent for resale to military personnel.
Cuomo said SmartBuy’s store in Watertown, N.Y., near Fort Drum, financed more than $4 million of sales to military personnel from 2007 to 2009. He said the company abruptly closed the store after learning of the planned lawsuit.
He said SmartBuy, based in Fayetteville, N.C., steered customers to affiliated lenders that charged effective annual interest rates averaging 244 percent.
“Our lawsuit not only seeks to bar them from ever doing business again in the state, but also to vindicate the countless soldiers who were preyed upon and defrauded,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The lawsuit seeks restitution, a voiding of finance agreements, the disgorgement of profit at the Watertown store, and a $5,000 civil fine for each deceptive or illegal act.