Judge orders arrest warrant for head of used tech scheme
Investigators say he may have swiped $90,000 in jewelry, coins & collectibles.
It was supposed to be full of treasure—a safe deposit box under the name David Kruchin at Nevada State Bank in Reno.
Kruchin, the head of Laptop and Desktop Repair in Sparks, Nevada, said he stored $90,000 in jewelry, coins and collectibles in that box, documents showed.
The Federal Trade Commission shut down his multi-million-dollar business in September after claims of fraud and deception.
And at the time, Kruchin, also known as Vadim Kruchinin, received a court order telling him to freeze his assets—that would include his bank account and his box of treasures.
Now, more than two months later, investigators were about to get a look in the box.
A bank employee drilled it open for them. Inside?
“Upon opening the box we discovered that the approximately $90,000 worth of contents Kruchinin listed on his Financial Disclosures were not in the Safe Deposit Box, and, in fact, the box was completely empty,” Scott Askue of Hays Financial Consulting said in court documents.
Court documents show there was no coin or currency inside Kruchinin’s safe deposit box.
Now, a judge has put out an arrest warrant for Kruchinin, saying he is not complying with the terms of the court orders he received when his company was shut down.
“Awesome,” Laptop and Desktop Repair customer Tiffany Narveson told Archer News.
The arrest order did not specifically cite the safe deposit box issue, but described other problems that emerged during the investigation.
“Box is empty,” say documents filed with court.
Thousands of complaints
The company earned quite a reputation with the Better Business Bureau—more than 2600 complaints from unhappy customers who said Laptop and Desktop Repair or one of its many sub companies promised them hundreds of dollars for used phones and laptops, but gave them only a few bucks in return.
“Quoted over $250 for my laptop,” wrote customer Derek S. online. “Sending $16 check. Ridiculous.”
Customers filed complaints about Laptop and Desktop Repair’s many businesses on SiteJabber.
The company refused to give them their devices back, customers said, and sometimes the paltry checks bounced.
Laptop and Desktop Repair then sold the phones and laptop parts on eBay and other sites, the FTC said.
“This makes me so sad and disgusted,” Narveson said. “I can’t believe I fell for this.”
The site—under the name eCycle Best—quoted her $433 for her six-month-old Samsung S5 Active but sent her a bad check for less than $50 and refused to return her phone, she said.
On September 29, the FTC closed Laptop and Desktop Repair down. The court said Hays Financial Consulting would act as the receiver—the company that would oversee the shutdown and the search for money to pay off creditors and possibly thousands of victims.
Laptop & Desktop Repair used memes to promote some of its companies.
With his company shut down, Kruchinin did not sit idle.
Despite a court order to freeze his and his company’s assets, he immediately began siphoning off money, the receiver said.
He bought 87 gold bars, wrote big checks to himself and his apparent girlfriend, and refused to give passwords to his computer and PayPal accounts, the documents said.
More than $150,000 disappeared, according to the receiver.
Court documents say the head of Laptop & Desktop Repair stockpiled gold bars after he was ordered to freeze assets.
You can see the legal timeline for this case on the Hays Financial Consulting website.
The FTC filed a motion asking for the court to require Kruchinin to show cause, or explain his actions, on October 26, saying Kruchinin was violating the court orders.
On November 7, the agency asked for an order of default against him.
On November 8, the court ordered Kruchinin to file a response by November 14.
November 14 came and went, and on the next day, the court ordered a judgment of default and set a hearing on the contempt of court issue.
Two days later, the judge found him to be in contempt of court.
On December 7, the FTC filed a motion for an arrest warrant, and today the judge gave the order.
The order directs law enforcement to arrest Kruchinin and hold him behind bars until he complies with previous court orders to return the money and cooperate with the investigation.
“Defendants shall provide a full accounting of all monies removed from accounts covered by the asset freeze,” the order said.
A judge ordered law enforcement to sieze Vadim Kruchinin’s travel docuents upon arrest.
Help for customers?
Customers are still waiting to hear if they might receive their phones—or their money—back.
The Laptop and Desktop Repair warehouse still contains people’s devices.
The receiver sent back the phones and laptops that were in unopened boxes, but said there isn’t money to identify and send home the many devices sitting in various stages of processing.
“It is unfortunate we did not find the gold bars, as we need funds to identify and ship electronic devices back to defrauded consumers,” Greg Hays with Hays Financial Consulting told Archer News. “We hope to sell the warehouse and inventory soon and then have money to return devices.”
Hays Financial Consulting returned phones that were still in their mailing boxes, the company said. Image: Hays Financial Consulting
For some customers, the wait for answers is frustrating.
“Why did he still have access to that stuff when they should have known he was a flight risk and would take off?” asked Narveson.
Others are still hoping to get their devices back.
And the complaints continue to pop up online, long after Laptop and Desktop Repairs shut its doors for good.
Some customers are just now realizing they are victims of this multi-million-dollar used tech scheme.
“Really upset about this as are many others,” said Katie G. “I can’t imagine how many phones they have stolen.”