Local News

Fayetteville ad firm closes unexpectedly

Posted March 8, 2012 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated March 8, 2012 6:45 p.m. EST

— A longtime Fayetteville advertising agency appears to have closed its doors in the wake of a civil lawsuit filed by a Florida bank claiming the company owes it millions of dollars.

Secret Service agents were seen Thursday carrying items from Smith Advertising & Associates, which has worked since 1974 on accounts for banks, mortgage companies and tourism bureaus in Fayetteville, Ocean Isle Beach and Sarasota, Fla.

Clients said Thursday that they received notification that the business has closed for good and that it gave no explanation for the sudden closure.

Gary Smith, the company's founder, could not be reached Thursday for comment. Neither could his son, Todd Smith, who serves as vice president.

Regions Bank in Florida claimed in a check fraud suit filed last month that the business and a Florida developer owe nearly $10 million combined.

The lawsuit says that Smith wrote checks to the developer totaling nearly $15 million, and that the checks were declined after the developer put them into his bank account. He then withdrew money against those deposits before the checks could bounce, according to the complaint.