HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that the Office of Attorney General has filed a complaint against Internet Hobbies, LLC and Hobby Models, LLC, two online shops operated by co-defendants Dale and Diane Bruner. The complaint alleges that the defendants consistently failed to deliver products and failed to refund consumers’ money, violating the Commonwealth’s Consumer Protection Law.
“Pennsylvanians need to be on alert for scammers this holiday season,” said AG Shapiro. “We’re suing Internet Hobbies for making a hobby out of scamming Pennsylvanians. We’re determined to get people their money back, and to stop this company from operating in our Commonwealth.”
The lawsuit alleges that despite being more than two years behind on fulfilling some consumers’ orders, the defendants have continued to accept orders and collect money. When consumers reached out to inquire about the status of their orders, the defendants allegedly either ignored the consumers or provided excuses after apologies. When other consumers would request refunds from the defendants for undelivered items, the defendants allegedly often refused to issue refunds, or informed consumers that they had been provided refunds, but never sent them.
The lawsuit seeks a court order for the defendants to pay restitution to customers who have suffered losses as a result of the defendants’ conduct, to stop doing business in Pennsylvania, and pay civil penalties for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law.
As Black Friday nears, Attorney General Shapiro is also warning Pennsylvania consumers to be on the lookout for similar scams and fraudulent businesses, including:
- The Bait and Switch: Unscrupulous retailers may advertise goods at low prices, but when you get to the store the price may be higher than advertised or the product might not be there at all. To combat this tactic, take retailers’ advertisements to the store with you when you go shopping.
- Skimming Devices: Skimming devices are machines usually placed on gas pumps or ATMs to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of credit and debit cards. If something looks out of place or a stationary payment device easily wiggles, use a different ATM, gas pump or register.
- Cybersquatting Sites: Crooks try to impersonate well-known websites by purchasing names similar to well-known websites then inverting characters or making slight alterations on the name of the site. The copycat sites may look similar to the real website – and they can steal your credit information. Carefully read website addresses to ensure you are shopping on a legitimate website.
- Copycat and Fraudulent Websites: Fake websites set up by scammers target online shoppers during the holiday season. Sometimes appearing as ad results in online searches, these sites may contain malware or steal inputted credit card data. To avoid making purchases from untrustworthy sites, try to independently verify that the website you are using is a legitimate one.
- Security Certificates: To ensure you are shopping on a secure website, make sure the website begins with “https” and has a small padlock icon next to the webpage address. Keep your computer, tablet or smartphone up-to-date and install security software.
- Retailers Who Request Payment through Wire Transfer: Legitimate online businesses will not use wire transfer to collect payment for purchases. This is a sure sign of a scam.
Pennsylvanians stay on alert for other business aliases used by the defendants, including: Hobby Wheels, Hobby Rails, Hobby Book Depot, Red Star Hobbies, Military Model Depot, Model Airplane Depot, Model Railroad Depot, Model Ship Depot, Gundam World Online, www.takom-military.com, Model Kit Closeouts, and Model Train Closeouts.
Hundreds of consumers across the country and around the world have reported these companies to consumer mediation agencies, including the Office of Attorney General. Any Pennsylvanians who believe that they have been affected by these companies should contact the Office of Attorney General at www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint or contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 1-800-441-2555.
The lawsuit was filed by Senior Deputy Attorney General James Wise in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas.