Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that a Virginia auctioneer, who was operating under a 1993 court order to change the misleading methods in which his company advertised carpet auctions, has agreed to a stipulated judgment for violation of that order. Named in a judgment and permanent injunction filed today in Multnomah County Circuit Court is Fidelity First Financial Corporation and its president Anwar Khan of Sterling, Virginia.
"Promises to change unlawful advertising of carpets and other products such as prints and furniture were oftentimes ignored," Myers said. "Under the new court order, he must comply or we will put him permanently out of business in Oregon."
Khan has held carpet auctions in Oregon two to three times a year for the last ten years. In 1993, he signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance pledging to follow a set of guidelines but failed to completely follow the rules since then. Khan added art and furniture to his company's auctions several years ago.
Department of Justice investigators found Khan's latest advertising gimmick of holding the auctions in connection with the sale of multi-million dollar homes to violate the assurance. In July 2001, an advertisement appeared in Oregon newspapers headlined as a grand estate auction and an "event of international merit and acclaim." The ads misled the public into thinking the faux art, furniture and carpets auctioned were connected with the family selling the estate and therefore, gave Khan's auction items added worth. The ads also claimed that the estate was forced to liquidate following bankruptcy reorganization and a health crisis when neither was true.
Under the judgment, Khan is permanently restrained from misrepresenting the source of goods or affiliation with any other persons or businesses. Khan also must, for a period of four years, have all advertisements for his business reviewed by the Department of Justice at least seven days prior to any mailing or use through any media in Oregon.
Khan paid the $2,500 to the Justice consumer protection and education fund.
Attorney General Myers recommends the following precautions when shopping for oriental rugs, art objects and antiques:
Study merchandise and know its value.
If purchasing art or other high value items, make sure to substantiate its authenticity. Unscrupulous dealers are known to have substituted quality copies of art, furniture and oriental rugs.
Check with local, established merchants for similar merchandise. Often auction merchandise is more expensive and doesn't have the return policies and warranties to back up purchases.
Be suspect of auctions that claim to be court ordered sales, U.S. Customs' seizures, or any other type of distress sale. These claims are often false.
Before attending auctions, call the Attorney General's consumer hotline to check for complaints or court actions against the business holding the sale.
Don't get caught up in the excitement of auction buying. Establish spending limits before the auction and stick to them.
Consumers wanting more information about itinerant auctions may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org