ALBANY — New York State is suing Hauppauge-based Harris Jewelry over allegedly fraudulent sales practices to military members, but the national company is standing behind its business model.
“Harris Jewelry will vigorously contest the inaccurate and baseless allegations raised by the New York State Attorney General. Harris Jewelry operates in full compliance with the laws that regulate our industry,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.
In its lawsuit, New York State claimed that the company used false and deceptive methods to dupe U.S. military members into illegal financing contracts for overpriced merchandise.
Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Monday the lawsuit alleges Harris Jewelry used its "Operation Teddy Bear" charitable donations campaign to lure service members into high-priced, in-house financing contracts.
The company has retail stores on or near military bases across the country.
The lawsuit alleges Harris Jewelry marks up jewelry between 600 and 1,000 percent over wholesale price and adds a nearly 15 percent interest rate.
The lawsuit is the result of a multistate investigation co-led by New York and Tennessee.
The New York attorney general has “reached the wrong conclusions about our business and the work we do,” Harris Jewelry said in its statement Tuesday.
The retailer has sold jewelry and watches to military personnel and retirees for more than 60 years, it said.
“Today, the company continues to honor that tradition and enables its customers to purchase quality jewelry designed specifically for them, and to do so on credit terms customized to meet their needs,” it said.
With Tory N. Parrish