Attorney General: jeweler scammed soldiers, must pay $$$
WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A jeweler that had a store in Watertown for years scammed soldiers nationwide out of millions of dollars, according to New York’s Attorney General.
As a result, Harris Jewelry must pay those soldiers, cancel debt and remove negative credit reports.
Some of the soldiers - it’s not clear how many - were stationed at Fort Drum. Harris Jewelry had a store at Salmon Run Mall from 2014 to 2021, according to the Attorney General’s office.
“An investigation led by my office found that Harris’s Jewelry business practices were entirely self-serving, and they enticed service members into their stores and encouraged them to purchase poor quality, over-priced jewelry thru’ predatory financing contracts,” Attorney General Letitia James said during a stop in Watertown Wednesday afternoon.
The national settlement with Harris, which covers several states, totals $34.2 million.
In New York state alone, 443 service members will have $756,000 in debt canceled, and 1,692 service members will get refunds totaling $479,000. Another $150,000 from Harris is going to a program that supports veterans in Jefferson County.
“Today they are paying the price for the harm that they caused thousands of service members and veterans nationwide,” James said.
As part of the nationwide settlement, Harris must dissolve all its businesses.
As James described it Wednesday, Harris preyed on soldiers.
An example James cited: the jeweler sold something called a “Mother’s Medal of Honor.” It cost Harris $77.70 for a medal, but they sold it for an eye-popping $799.
Then a ‘protection plan’ would be added for another $79.99, and with other taxes and fees, the total cost of the “Medal of Honor” would jump to $974.31.
But wait, there’s more.
The soldier would then be charged a 14.99 interest rate on the purchase, raising the grand total on an item Harris bought for $77 to....
“It’s abhorrent that Harris Jewelry built their business by taking advantage of young servicemembers risking their lives to protect our country,” James said.
“Our troops bravely put our protection above their own and deserve to be treated with integrity and respect.
In all, James said, 46,000 service members and veterans nationwide were defrauded by Harris Jewelry.
Harris Jewelry’s web site was still active Wednesday, but said all its stores are “permanently closed,” “because of the pandemic.”
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