Attorney General Josh Stein Monday issued a Civil Investigative Demand to Harris Jewelry, a jewelry store that has retail stores near, and in some cases on, military bases around the country – including stores in Fayetteville near Fort Bragg and Jacksonville near Camp Lejeune.
Attorney General Stein, as part of an active investigation, is requiring Harris Jewelry to produce significant documentation to further the Department of Justice’s investigation into the jewelry store’s business practices.
“We should respect the members of our military, not trick them,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office will not tolerate companies seeking to take advantage of our brave men and women in uniform. We will continue our investigation and, if necessary, take further legal action.”
Harris Jewelry sells lines of military-themed jewelry and other commemorative items, such as a “Mother’s Medal of Honor,” on credit it provides under the name Consumer Adjustment Corp.
A group of 14 states are investigating the company’s sales practices. As part of this ongoing investigation, New York’s Attorney General today filed a lawsuit alleging unlawful business practices related to misrepresentations and omissions in Harris’s advertising and financing.
It alleges that Harris Jewelry entices local servicemembers into the stores with “Operation Teddy Bear”—a purported charitable program in which Harris Jewelry sells teddy bears in military uniforms with promises of charitable donations to a military-related charity.
Then, the complaint alleges, Harris Jewelry tells servicemembers it can provide them with an opportunity to build or improve their credit score through “The Harris Program”—the company’s own financing. Only after the servicemember agrees to participate in this “credit-improving program” does Harris Jewelry begin to discuss jewelry or its other products with the servicemember in an effort to max out the credit limit.
In July of this year, North Carolina and the multistate group settled with Operation Troop Aid Inc., Harris’s original charitable partner in Operation Teddy Bear. The settlement resolved potential charges of improper commercial co-venture activities with Harris Jewelry, failures of Operation Troop Aid to require Harris to account for donations and distribution of funds, and other deceptive practices.
Harris Jewelry is being investigated by the Attorneys General of North Carolina, New York, Tennessee, Nevada, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.