Texas AG takes aim at BlueHippo

Greg Abbott (R)

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - The Texas attorney general is suing a finance company over allegedly defrauding credit-challenged consumers who sought to purchase computers and related equipment.

The lawsuit was filed last week in Travis County against BlueHippo Funding LLC and its sole shareholder Joseph Rensin of Maryland. Also listed as a defendant in the case is BlueHippo Capital LLC of Virginia and Nevada

Attorney General Greg Abbott alleges that BlueHippo, which was not registered to do business in the Lone Star State, targeted Texas consumers with poor credit ratings.

Hoping to get restitution for consumers, the attorney general is "working closely" with the Chapter 7 liquidating trustee recently appointed in the defendants' Delaware bankruptcy case.

"By pursuing recoveries in state and federal courts, Texas is working to improve the likelihood that consumers' restitution claims will be fulfilled," the AG's office said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants advertised guaranteed financing, regardless of credit history. Potential customers were told that they would be required to make layaway payments. The payments would purportedly secure the buyer's right to purchase their computers, and BlueHippo would finance the remaining balance, the attorney general's office said.

But instead, BlueHippo failed to ship computers even though customers made the required number of consecutive layaway payments.

Consumer complaints made to Abbott's office also indicate the defendants failed to ship, as promised, certain "free" products, such as printers, software and televisions.

When angry customers sought refunds, BlueHippo referred customers to a clause in the layaway plan stating that cancellations would merely receive a "store credit."

Abbott's lawsuit is seeking civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as restitution to financially harmed consumers.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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