Johns Island man convicted of wire fraud, could get 20 years, $2.5 million fine

Image by Flickr user Just-Us-3Image by 20080817couch.jpg Generally furniture orders are no cause for excessive alarm.

Update January 28: He's received 14 years at sentencing.

First reporting: A Johns Island man has been convicted of charges around a furniture scam that took thousands of dollars from buyers.

Henry Ray Privette, ran a company operating under the name of Carolina Furniture (among others) and would allegedly take phone and Internet orders and would fail to deliver or deliver sub-par furniture.

The Post and Courier reports:
A federal jury found Henry Rayford Privette Jr., 49, guilty of 10 counts of wire fraud ... Privette, who used the alias Ray Picard, faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of $2.5 million.

You can read tons of complaints about the company over at Ripoff Report. One even got a reply from someone claiming to be an ex-employee of the furniture company:
I am an ex-employee of Inart Furniture. I want to aplogize to the people who lost their money with the company I worked for. I want to asure you that we as employees of the company we were not awear of what was really going on behind the scenes. We were just as shocked when we came to work and the store was closed. We tried to help as many customers as we could that day and unfortunately we could not help many (meaning refund money to everyone). I am truly sorry for what has happened to you. People work very hard for their money and it is a shame that this has happened to you, but please do not blame the workers we were in the dark just as much as you.

We are all in lawsuits with the company, we were issued pay-checks which bounced and all came back to us in March these bounced check started in November and now we are all in collection and investigation for these checks. So by no means please think that we were in on this.!!!!!! Some of us were able to get new jobs and some of us are still unemployed struggling.

Sounds like a raw deal all around. Reduce your chances of getting scammed, read the FTC's tips on safe online shopping. Also, try use a safer more security-aware browser like Firefox (it's free).

And this is not the first time Privette has had fraud troubles. Get much more over at WRAL and a solid roundup at The Post and Courier.