BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline) - Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced a $15,000 agreement on Thursday with a Coeur d'Alene reptile dealer to resolve allegations of misrepresentation and deceptive marketing.
TMT Reptiles, Timothy M. West, Timothy J. West, Michael B. West, Co-Op Breeding Program, Kingdom Breeders, West Reptiles and West Interest allegedly advertised that consumers could earn between $20,000 and $40,000 per year from breeding the Wests' genetically superior reptiles.
Consumers paid thousands of dollars to buy tortoises, geckos, bearded dragons and other animals from the Wests. In many instances, the animals either failed to breed or died, Wasden claims. There was no evidence that the animals were genetically superior to the animals available at local pet stores, Wasden claims, and none of the consumers who lodged complaints with Wasden's office earned $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 maintaining animals in overcrowded, inhumane or dirty conditions, guaranteeing an animal will reproduce unless the company provides a 100 percent unconditional refund, advertising specialized knowledge of genetics or breeding that they do not have, misrepresenting the sex, age, breed or health of an animal, making claims that animals have special genetic qualities that cannot be verified, and selling animals that are dying or sick.
The company must refund a consumer's money or supply a replacement animal if the animal dies from no fault of the consumer within 14 days of receipt. Additionally, TMT Reptiles agreed to provide replacement animals if the animal dies within 90 days of receipt.
Under the terms of the agreement, TMT Reptiles paid Wasden's office $1,000 for costs and fees. A $15,000 civil penalty is suspended pending the company's compliance with the agreement.