Superior Court judge on Monday ordered the Raleigh Geeks computer repair business to pay $10,425 in restitution and $445,000 in civil penalties for misleading dozens of customers.
Judge Michael J. O’Foghludha also ordered owners Timothy Staie and Mark White to return any computers that are still missing and permanently banned them from operating a computer repair business in North Carolina.
A third man, Garrett Foster, agreed to a consent judgment that bars him from associating with Staie and White and requires him to notify the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office if he plans, in the next five years, to open a business. A fourth man named in the case, Steven Leo, was dismissed as a defendant.
Raleigh Geeks, which also operated as Caveman Computers, ProTech Computers and Fuquay Computer Center, had locations in Raleigh, Apex, Fuquay-Varina, and Garner.
The Raleigh Geeks shops have been the subject of numerous consumer complaints and were the focus of a 5 on Your Side investigation in 2013.
Customers said they paid in advance for computers or repair services and then got computers back in pieces, without original parts or, in many cases, got nothing back at all.
“Taking money and then failing to do the job is bad business,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. “People who pay for computer repairs they never get deserve to get their money and their property back.”
The Attorney General’s Office sued Raleigh Geeks a year ago after receiving 69 complaints from consumers who lost money, personal information and, sometimes, their computers. Students lost schoolwork, families lost photos that held great sentimental value and professionals were unable to continue working without access to information saved on their computers, Cooper said.
Authorities recovered 133 pieces of equipment and returned 37 of them to their rightful owners. Many computers are still missing or have not been claimed.
Any Raleigh Geeks customer who hasn’t yet inquired about or claimed a missing computer can call the state Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
Web Editor: Matthew Burns