For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: November 8, 2012
Idaho Reptile Sellers Agree to Pay $15,000 in Customer Refunds
(Boise) – A Coeur d'Alene reptile dealer has agreed to pay $15,000 to its former customers and to change how it advertises its animals, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today. A legal settlement concludes Wasden's year-long investigation into TMT Reptiles, Timothy M. West, Michael B. West, Timothy J. West, West Interest, West Reptiles, Kingdom Breeders, and Co-Op Breeding Program.
Using various assumed business names, the Wests advertised that consumers could earn $20,000 to $40,000 per year from breeding the Wests' genetically superior reptiles. Consumers paid thousands of dollars to purchase bearded dragons, geckos, tortoises, and other animals from the Wests, but, in many instances, the animals failed to breed or died. There was no indication that the animals were genetically superior to the animals available at local pet stores. None of the consumers who complained to the Attorney General's Office reported earning $20,000 to $40,000.
"This agreement protects consumers from losing their money to a deceptive business opportunity and stops TMT Reptiles from misrepresenting the quality of its animals," Wasden said. "Unsubstantiated earnings claims are prohibited by both Idaho law and federal law. Consumers should ignore any claim that they can make thousands of dollars by stuffing envelopes or assembling crafts at home."
The settlement prohibits TMT Reptiles and its owners from:
In the future and at the consumer's request, the company must refund the consumer's money or supply a replacement animal if an animal dies due to no fault of the consumer within 14 days of receipt. The company also agreed to provide a replacement animal if the animal dies within 90 days of receipt.
TMT Reptiles paid the Attorney General $1,000 to cover his investigative costs and fees. A $15,000 civil penalty is held in abeyance pending the company's compliance with the settlement.
The Attorney General's Office will notify consumers who are eligible to receive restitution. Consumers do not need to file complaint forms or contact the office. Click here for additional information about the restitution distribution process or to read the settlement agreement.
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