State recovers scores of computers from troubled Raleigh Geeks chain
Posted June 27, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — The state Attorney General's Office has recovered 133 computers and other items from a group of Wake County computer repair shops accused of engaging in deceptive practices, officials said Friday.
Assistant Attorney General Matt Liles said the Consumer Protection Division is working to identify the owners of the property to return the items to them. In addition to laptop, desktop and tablet computers, investigators recovered cellphones, televisions and flash drives, he said.
"The machines are in various states of disrepair," Liles said. "Some of them are complete. Others, obviously, need some work to them."
The Attorney General's Office sued Raleigh Geeks and three men – a fourth was added later – whom authorities identified as owning the shops in Raleigh, Apex, Garner and Fuquay-Varina. The business is also known as Fuquay Computer Center, ProTech, Garner Geeks Computers and operated previously as Foster Computers and Caveman Computers.
As part of the lawsuit, a Superior Court judge last month ordered Raleigh Geeks to return all property to North Carolina customers or risk contempt of court charges.
"A vast majority of the things had a receipt of some sort on top of them, and most contain a consumer name and contact information," Liles said. "We're in the process of cataloging everything, and then we're going to contact consumers directly and get them back to them, hopefully, as fast as possible."
Investigators would check the serial numbers on items without any contact information attached to help track down the owners, he said.
The Raleigh Geeks shops have been the subject of numerous consumer complaints and were the focus of a 5 on Your Side investigation last October.
Customers said they paid in advance for computers or repair services and then got computers back in pieces, without original parts or, in many cases, got nothing back at all.
In addition to getting property back to customers, the Attorney General's Office is seeking a permanent ban against questionable practices by the owners and managers, refunds for consumers and civil penalties.
A temporary restraining order issued shortly after the lawsuit was filed blocked the shops from taking on any new business or collecting payments from customers. The stores have been closed since then, and the Attorney General's Office had to work with landlords to get into the shops to recover the equipment..
"We think ithis is a very positive step in remedying a situation that has not been great," Liles said.
Authorities encouraged anyone who left items for repair at any Raleigh Geeks location to file a complaint with the state Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or visiting the division's website. Consumers can also file a police report reporting the property as stolen if it is not returned.
For people who paid for repairs that were never done, Liles said investigators are still working through that. They did recover receipts, however, and plan to "follow the money," he said.