Use Caution: Questionable Internet Retailers
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"Retailer ordered to pay $200,000 in settlement for customer charges
May 10, 2011|BY VIK JOLLY
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney's Office obtained a $200,000 settlement Tuesday against a local audio retailer for bilking online customers by charging their credit cards for products that were never shipped and failing to provide refunds, according to a news release.
Superior Court Judge Francisco Firmat signed the judgment ordering the defendants, operating primarily out of Irvine and Santa Ana, to pay $70,000 in civil penalties and $130,000 in restitution to victims as determined by the District Attorney's Office, the release said.
The defendants have admitted no fault or liability in this case and operated under business names that included Dealer Cost Audio, Gold Star Audio, Gold Star Audio Sound Inc., National Audio Center Inc., Indo Audio and owner Ravi Ghataode, also known as Robert Ghataode or Robert Jones, according to the District Attorney's Office.
For at least the past three years, the defendants advertised low-price audio equipment for sale on the Internet to customers throughout the country, prosecutors said. Some of the products were properly shipped, but hundreds of other customers whose credit cards were billed immediately were cheated by the defendants, the release goes on to say.
The District Attorney's Office began investigating after a consumer complaint in 2010 and learned that over 1,200 complaints had been filed with the Better Business Bureau, the news release said.
Customers who believe they are due a refund for goods never received from the defendant may contact investigator Steve Howe at 714-347-8886. All complaints must be received no later than Aug. 7.
Contact the writer: 714-834-3773 or vjolly @ ocregister . com"