Return the money or face arrest, judge orders tech scheme owner
The head of a massive used tech operation is found in contempt of court after reports of disappearing money.
Pay it back, or you could go to jail.
That’s the message from a judge to Vadim Kruchinin, also known as David Kruchin, the head of a used tech scheme that generated thousands of customer complaints.
The Federal Trade Commission shut down his business, Laptop and Desktop Repair in Sparks, Nevada, on September 29.
Kruchinin was ordered to freeze his assets.
But the court-appointed receiver who took over the business reported that Kruchinin did not freeze the money, and instead began to spend big, buying dozens of gold bars and writing large checks to a woman who appears to be his girlfriend, and to her company.
Now, a judge has found Kruchinin in contempt of court. She ordered him to return the money and comply with the investigation, or the court could issue an arrest warrant.
“That’s awesome, probably the best news I’ve gotten today,” said Leslie Heng, one of Kruchinin’s unhappy customers.
Laptop & Desktop Repair operated out of this warehouse in Sparks, Nevada. Image via Google Maps .
Thousands of customers share similar stories about Laptop and Desktop Repair, which also went by names like cashforiphones, cashforlaptops, ecyclebest, and sell-your-cell, among many others.
The sites promised to pay them top dollar for their phones and laptops, but when they sent their devices in, they received a small fraction of the quoted rate. The company often refused to send their devices back.
Heng said the company quoted her $120 for her iPhone 6.
“My phone was in brand new condition at that,” she told Archer News.
But when she mailed it in, the company offered her just $26. She did not accept the offer, but the company kept her phone and sent her a check for $26, she said.
She tried to cash it.
“And then about a week later was returned to me because it said it was a frozen/blocked account. So I was charged a $35 fee for this returned check, unbelievable,” she wrote on a customer complaint site online.
More than 2,600 people filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
“I think it’s crazy and horrible for all the customers such as myself who were scammed and lost their phones and money,” Heng said.
“The fact that people do this and almost get away is insane,” she added. “I really hope they can charge him or at least rightly get back the phones or money that people like me lost.”
Some of the many devices customers sent in to Laptop & Desktop Repair. Image via Hays Financial Consulting.
Money back for unhappy customers?
Documents show Kruchinin’s company took out large loans, ran up big credit card bills, and owed money to workers for paychecks.
Still, the receiver is trying to determine if there will be money left over to pay the many disappointed customers. The receiver is Hays Financial Consulting out of Atlanta, Georgia.
The plan, according to Greg Hays of Hays Financial Consulting, is to sort out Laptop and Desktop Repair’s finances and see what remains.
Hays asked the court to expand the receivership, allowing Hays Financial Consulting to take over Laptop and Desktop Repair’s building, as well as its assets.
The court has now agreed, allowing Hays to try to sell the building to raise money that could end up helping customers.
“The Receiver is pleased the court found the Defendant in contempt and ordered that he turn over the funds removed from several personal accounts,” Hays said in an e-mail to Archer News. “The Receiver is also pleased he will have control of the building which will be sold.”
“The Receiver hopes to recover additional personal assets of Defendants so that he has funds to return electronic items to consumers and pay creditors, former employees, and possibly defrauded victims,” he added.
Phone processing area at Laptop & Desktop repair. Image via Hays Financial Consulting.
Hays Financial Consulting has already sent back hundreds of unopened boxes to customers who sent in their devices to Laptop and Desktop Repair’s warehouse.
Those devices should arrive back to their owners by Thanksgiving, the receiver’s website said.
Still, many devices remain in the warehouse. Hays said he wants to try to find a way to get money to pay for workers to sort through the mass of phones and laptops and send them back to customers.
The judge’s order to expand the receivership and try to sell the building may help with that as well, according to Hays.
Judge Amy Totenberg signed the order declaring Vadim Kruchinin in contempt of court on November 17.
They include withdrawing $22,000 from his company’s PayPal account and transferring the money to a company registered to his alleged romantic partner, spending more than $100,000 on 87 gold bars, and refusing to give investigators the passwords to his computer and PayPal account.
The contempt of court order also notes that Kruchinin tried to access his passport, potentially seeking a way to leave the country.
Now, the judge has ruled Kruchinin is in contempt of court until he complies, and if he does not do so soon, he could be arrested.
He must return the money that he transferred, hidden or spent in violation and provide computer logins and passwords to help the receiver within seven days of the order being served, or the court could direct the U.S. Marshals Service or even INTERPOL to arrest him, the judge said.