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Jeweler scammed service members, Connecticut attorney general says

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Connecticut Network (CT-N)
Veteran Julio Figueroa Jr. says he was a victim of what Connecticut's Attorney General William Tong is calling a scam back when Figueroa served at Fort Stewart in Georgia. The state has recouped nearly $129,000 for Figueroa and at least 100 other service members or veterans from Connecticut who shopped at Harris Jewelry.

Connecticut has recouped money from a national retail jeweler on behalf of active-duty service members and veterans.

Attorney General William Tong said Long Island-based Harris Jewelry set up stores with high markups near military bases to target service members, particularly young ones.

“They hide in the fine print limited warranties,” Tong said Thursday at a news conference in Hartford. “They hide in the fine print oppressive payment terms and high interest rates, and people get drawn into paying for something that far exceeds the retail price of that piece of jewelry.”

One example he gave was a “Mother’s Medal of Honor” sold at $799. Tong said the store got it from a wholesaler for $700 less than that price.

Julio Figueroa Jr. is one of at least 100 Connecticut active-duty service members or veterans who are entitled to a portion of a nearly $129,000 settlement.

He recalled wanting a watch for himself and a gold necklace for his girlfriend when he was 18. Back then, Figueroa was based at Fort Stewart in Georgia.

“You walk off base and there’s businesses lined up waiting for you with big signs, ‘Just come on in, we’ll directly take it out of your military paycheck.’ It looks really enticing at 17, 18, 19 years old until you learn your lesson,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa said that the payment term wasn’t longer than 24 months and that he was charged long after it was over.

“You just don’t realize that, ‘Oh, by the way, I was the victim of a scam,’” he said.

Tong said Figueroa will receive a $3,000 refund “in short order.”

The attorney general has recouped $128,964.50 from Harris Jewelry for Figueroa and other Connecticut service members. Connecticut is also receiving a $50,000 penalty payment.

Harris says its stores, which shut down during the pandemic, will now be closed for good.

“The settlement, in which Harris Jewelry neither admitted nor denied the allegations, resolves these matters in the best interest of all its stakeholders,” the company said in a statement emailed to Connecticut Public.

Tong said that if there are any other service members who have yet to come forward with a claim, they may file one at www.portal.ct.gov/AG.

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