WATERTOWN — State Attorney General Letitia A. James issued a reminder Wednesday that service members and veterans who were scammed by a national jewelry store chain that had a location in the Salmon Run Mall should file claims to receive refunds from the Harris Jewelry settlement before an April 15 deadline.
In July, Ms. James came to Watertown to announce her office, along with the Federal Trade Commission, had reached an agreement with Harris to end its deceptive marketing practices that targeted 443 service members and veterans in New York alone.
In all, the attorney general and the FTC recovered $34.2 million for service members and veterans who were scammed by the jewelry retailer. The agreement required Harris to provide more than $12 million in refunds for more than 46,000 service members who paid for lifetime protection plans. Eligible service members and veterans have until April 15 to file a claim online for a refund.
“I encourage active-duty service members and veterans who were misled by Harris Jewelry to apply for a refund from our settlement,” Ms. James said in a statement. “This is an opportunity for service members and veterans to get the justice they deserve after being defrauded. Our military members put our protection above their own and my office will continue to protect them from predatory businesses.”
Harris staff would advertise with stuffed bears, dressed in fatigues, outside storefronts in towns near military installations. One Harris location was open from 2014 to April 2021 in Watertown’s Salmon Run Mall, when it shut down all storefronts because of the pandemic. The company continued to operate online until December 2021, when it stopped running its finance program as part of an agreement with the attorney general. The investigation into the stores began in 2017, with the first lawsuits filed in 2018.
According to the attorney general, Harris used deceptive marketing tactics to lure active-duty service members to their financing program, falsely claiming that investing in this program would improve service members’ credit scores. Instead, they were tricked into obtaining high-interest loans on overpriced, poor-quality jewelry that saddled them with thousands of dollars of debt and worsened their credit.
Ms. James and the FTC co-led an 18-state agreement that requires Harris to refund tens of thousands of service members for warranties they were tricked into purchasing, stop collecting millions of dollars of debt, correct bad credit scores, and dissolve all its businesses.
Through the agreement, Harris has stopped collecting $21,307,229 in outstanding debt held by 13,426 service members. The agreement required the jewelry retailer to provide $12,872,493 in refunds to 46,204 people who paid for lifetime protection plans.
Eligible individuals can file a claim online on Harris’s website at www.harrisjewelry.com to obtain a refund.
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