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Furniture dealer sent to prison for fraud

Posted January 27, 2009

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— The former owner of an online furniture business was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.1 million to customers he defrauded.

Henry Ray Privette, 55, of John's Island, S.C., was found guilty in August of 10 counts of wire fraud. He operated his Brunswick County-based furniture company under several names, including Carolina Furniture and Carolina Furniture Factory Direct from High Point, from 2000 to 2003.

Federal prosecutors said Privette devised a scheme to take deposits from customers who ordered furniture online or over the phone and then provide various reasons for delivery delays. He defrauded more than 600 customers of millions of dollars, they said.

After state officials ordered him to stop doing business in North Carolina, he became a contractor and again failed to complete work on projects after collecting deposits, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Murphy said.

"He has never completed one whole set of dreams that he has gotten money from people to do," Murphy said. "Unfortunately, Henry Privette is just a con man. He is a con man and will always be a con man."

Before Privette moved his furniture business to North Carolina, South Carolina officials had ordered him to stop doing business there.