Ramil “Randy” Abalkhad and his wife Melina Abalkhad were arrested September 26, 2017, and are facing charges for conspiracy to engage in illegal financing and debt practices. The two operate Romano’s Jewelers, a California retail chain of jewelry stores, along with their in-house finance company, MBNB Financial Inc. The Company advertises military financing specials and the best in precious stones and gold.
Romano’s website claims, “At Romano’s Jewelers we cherish our service men & women. Take advantage of our military financing specials.” However, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s complaint, the couple’s companies not only failed to provide disclosures that are legally required regarding financing, they also harassed, lied to, and threatened servicemembers who fell behind on payments.
The complaint alleges the companies targeted young military service persons and encouraged them to purchase jewelry using MBNB Financial for credit. Abalkhad failed to provide legally required disclosures about monthly payments, interest rates, or other terms of financing. When customers fell behind on payments, they were harassed by the company’s debt collectors. They even went so far as to pose as an attorney named Thomas Parker to threaten servicemembers with court martial and other military disciplinary actions in their debt collection efforts.
Servicemembers who believe they have been targeted by Romano’s Jewelers or MBNB Financial are encouraged to contact the California Department of Justice at (800) 952-5225 or (916) 322-3360.
Active military members are not the only victims to complain about Romano’s. Business Consumer Alliance has received consumer complaints alleging dissatisfaction with the quality of the jewelry purchased, misrepresentation, and other allegations. Romano’s advertises, “The very best in diamonds and precious stones to everyone that walks through our doors.” However, some complaints allege items are appraised at a significantly lower value than sold and others were not the same quality as what was shown to them during the sale.
Purchasing items using credit can be convenient but it can also be costly. When considering applying for credit, make sure you receive the terms in writing and understand what you are agreeing to before signing. Consider how much the items will cost you once interest and other fees are added and how long it will take to pay the item off. Check out the reputation of the finance company and seller beforehand. In some states, finance companies are required to be licensed. Verify the value of the items by doing some comparison shopping and getting an independent appraisal. This may save you some grief if the merchandise is not as represented.
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About Business Consumer Alliance
Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.