Attorney General Shapiro files lawsuit against online hobby shop, warns of scams during holiday shopping – PA Attorney General’s Office
HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the Attorney General’s Office has filed a complaint against Internet Hobbies, LLC and Hobby Models, LLC, two online stores operated by co-defendants Dale and Diane Bruner. The complaint alleges that the defendants have consistently failed to deliver the products and refund consumers’ money, in violation of Commonwealth Consumer Protection Act.
“Pennsylvanians need to be vigilant of crooks this holiday season,” AG Shapiro said. “We are suing Internet Hobbies for making the Pennsylvanians scam a hobby. We are determined to get their money back and stop this business from operating in our Commonwealth. “
The lawsuit alleges that despite a delay of more than two years in fulfilling some consumer orders, the defendants continued to take orders and collect money. When consumers asked to know the status of their orders, defendants allegedly either ignored consumers or provided apologies after apologies. When other consumers asked defendants for refunds for undelivered items, defendants would often have refused to issue refunds or would have informed consumers that they had received refunds, but never sent them.
The lawsuit seeks a court order for the defendants to pay restitution to clients who suffered losses as a result of the defendants’ conduct, to cease doing business in Pennsylvania, and to pay civil penalties for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
As Black Friday approaches, Attorney General Shapiro is also warning consumers in Pennsylvania to be on the lookout for scams and similar fraudulent businesses, including:
- The bait and the switch: Unscrupulous retailers may advertise products at low prices, but when you get to the store, the price may be higher than advertised, or the product may not be there at all. To combat this tactic, take in-store retailer ads with you when shopping.
- Skimming devices: Skimmers are machines typically placed on gas pumps or ATMs to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of credit and debit cards. If something doesn’t seem out of place, or if a stationary payment device moves easily, use another ATM, gas pump, or cash register.
- Cybersquatting sites: Scammers try to masquerade as well-known websites by buying names similar to well-known websites and then reversing the characters or making slight changes to the name of the site. Impersonator sites can look like the real website – and they can steal your credit information. Read website addresses carefully to make sure you are shopping on a legitimate website.
- Copied and fraudulent websites: Fake websites created by scammers target online shoppers during the holiday season. Sometimes appearing as ad results in online searches, these sites may contain malware or steal entered credit card data. To avoid making purchases from untrustworthy sites, try to independently verify that the website you are using is legitimate.
- Security certificates: To ensure that you are shopping on a secure website, make sure the website begins with “https” and has a small padlock icon next to the web page address. Keep your computer, tablet or smartphone up to date and install security software.
- Retailers requesting payment by wire transfer: Legitimate online businesses will not use bank transfers to collect payment for purchases. This is a sure sign of a scam.
Pennsylvanians should remain alert to other trade aliases used by defendants, including: Hobby Wheels, Hobby Rails, Hobby Book Depot, Red Star Hobbies, Military Model Depot, Model Airplane Depot, Model Railroad Depot, Model Ship Depot, Gundam World Online, www.takom-military.com, liquidations of model kits and liquidations of model trains.
Hundreds of consumers across the country and around the world have reported these companies to consumer mediation agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office. All Pennsylvanians who believe they have been affected by these businesses should contact the Attorney General’s Office at www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint or contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection by emailing scams @ attorneygeneral .gov, or by calling 1-800-441-2555.
The lawsuit was filed by Assistant Deputy Attorney General James Wise in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas.
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