A couple posing as refrigerator-repair experts who officials say scammed consumers in Charlotte and elsewhere out of hundreds of dollars have been banned from operating in North Carolina.
Crystal Spear and Ronnie Griffin, formerly of Lexington, duped consumers for as much as $520 for purported repairs to home appliances, according to a statement from Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office. Targeting consumers in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Iredell and in the Triad region, the two visited consumers’ homes posing as technicians, the statement said.
Following their purported fixes to appliances, they requested payment in cash or check made out to an individual, instead of the company, according to Cooper’s office.
A 74-year-old Charlotte resident told the Attorney General’s office he contacted a company called Charlotte Appliance Service shortly before Christmas 2013 when his refrigerator stopped working. Expecting visitors and worried about his holiday food, he found the company online and made arrangements for a technician to visit.
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He told the Attorney General’s office he paid Spear a $374.16 check made out to her, at her request. He realized the next day the refrigerator still wasn’t cooling. He tried to stop payment on the check, but it had already been cashed.
The duo used other business names, including NC Appliance Repair, Gastonia Appliance Repair, and Home Pros, according to the statement. The state’s Consumer Protection Division investigated, and found 37 consumers complained to Cooper’s office, or the Better Business Bureau.
This week, Wake County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour approved a court order that temporarily bans Spear and Griffin from operating, advertising, taking payments or destroying records while a lawsuit goes forward.
Attempts to reach Spear and Griffin were unsuccessful.
“Taking upfront fees without completing repairs is no way to do business,” Cooper said in a statement. “Look into a repair company’s background before you hire them, and never pay the total cost upfront.”
To check out an appliance repair company, or to report one, consumers are advised to call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
Observer researcher Maria David contributed.