HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Friday that he’s secured a settlement that will recover over $34 million for the victims of a jewelry scam.
Harris Jewelry deceived 46,000 veterans and service members, using deceptive marketing tactics to lure active duty service members into a finance program under the claims that doing so would improve their credit scores.
Instead, the individuals were taking out high-interest loans on “overpriced, poor quality jewelry,” according to a statement released by the Attorney General’s office.
The company also offered protection plans on the jewelry, which it claimed was optional, but the charges were added to nearly all eligible transactions without consent. The costs of the plans ranged from $40 to $350, sometimes exceeding wholesale costs for the items themselves.
A multistate investigation found that Harris Jewelry violated the Truth in Lending Act, the Electronic Transfer Act, the FTC Act, the Military Lending Act and the Holder rule, as well as state laws regarding jewelry sales and financing to members of the military.
In an agreement negotiated between 18 states and the Federal Trade Commission, the jewelry company must stop collecting debt from the victims.
“Harris Jewelry preyed on active service members and veterans,” said Shapiro in a statement. “The people who willingly place themselves in harm’s way in order to protect our freedoms deserve better… Let this be a warning to other companies, anyone who tries to scam our heroes who serve will have to answer to me.”
Eligible service members and veterans will receive an email and letter in the mail notifying them of today’s agreement and if they qualify for restitution.
Pennsylvania service members or veterans who believe they may have been scammed should reach out to the Office of Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Affairs Office by email, or call 717-783-1944.