FTC, State of Georgia Charge Operators of Electronics Buyback Scheme with Bilking Consumers out of Millions
The FTC and the State of Georgia have charged Laptop & Desktop Repair, LLC, an electronics buyback company that specializes in buying consumers’ used smartphones, tablets and other devices, and its owner, Vadim Olegovich Kruchinin, with deceiving consumers with high-dollar offers to buy back their electronics, only to give consumers far less after they sent their devices to the company.
A federal court has issued an order temporarily stopping the defendants’ practices and freezing their assets.
“This is a classic case of bait-and-switch updated for the 21st century,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The defendants in this case lure consumers with false promises of generous payments, then hold consumers hostage once they have mailed their devices to the company.”
The complaint alleges that the defendants, which have done business under a variety of names including cashforiphones.com, cashforlaptops.com, ecyclebest.com, smartphonetraders.com and sell-your-cell.com, generated a buyback quote for consumers who visited their websites and provided some basic information about the type and condition of the electronic device they wanted to sell.
The defendants represented that consumers could expect to receive the exact amount of the quote. After consumers sent in their devices to the defendants, however, the defendants dropped their offer price to as little as three to ten percent of the original quote.
According to the complaint, consumers usually had either three or five days to accept or reject the new lower offer. The complaint alleges that when consumers would attempt to call the defendants’ purchasing department to ask for their device back, they would be met with long hold times, disconnected calls and an office that was frequently closed on the weekends – even though those days counted against the consumers’ time limit to reject the lower quote.
When consumers managed to get in touch with the defendants, the complaint alleges they were often told that their devices had already been processed. If consumers threatened to complain to the FTC or other agencies, they would get a marginally higher offer that was still far below what defendants promised according to the complaint. The complaint notes that thousands of consumers have complained to the FTC and other consumer protection agencies about the defendants’ practices.
The agencies charge defendants with violating both the FTC Act and the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act.
The Commission thanks Nevada Attorney General Adam P. Laxalt and his office for their collaboration and contributions to this case. The Commission also thanks the Police Department of Sparks, Nevada, and the Northern Nevada Better Business Bureau for their assistance in bringing this matter.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 3-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.