ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca auction house Finger Lakes Estate and Auction has been charged with fraudulently auctioning off customers’ property and failing to pay them the proceeds, the Attorney General’s Office said after a judgment this week.
The judgment is against owner Charles Dorsey and Finger Lakes Estate and Auction, Inc., which is listed as based on Lower Creek Road in Ithaca. The estate and auction business solicits and accepts personal property from consumers and sells them at auctions to the general public.
The attorney general’s office said Dorsey was charged for “fraudulently inducing consumers into giving up their personal property for auction sales and failing to return the proceeds as promised.” The judgment requires Dorsey and the company to pay back $237,739 in restitution to customers and $12,000 in civil penalties and costs. He also must retain a Trustee to handle all of the money from future auction sales to ensure the proceeds first go to the consigning consumers, the attorney general’s office said.
Finger Lakes Estate and Auction, Inc. charges people 15 to 35 percent commission and a transportation fee ranging from $100 to $250. The rest of the proceeds are supposed to go to the consumer, the attorney general’s office said. However, since October 2015, Finger Lakes and Dorsey “sold property and failed to return any of the proceeds to 24 consumers, totaling $237,739 owed. They continued to take in property for auctions knowing that they would not be paying the proceeds over to consumers.”
“New York consumers rely on companies to be trustworthy and responsible,” Attorney General Underwood said in a news release. “No matter the industry, my office will continue to protect New Yorkers from businesses that defraud their customers.”
The attorney general’s office said in one instance, Finger Lakes and Dorsey sold a person’s 1965 Austin Healey antique automobile for $39,000 but failed to pay the consumer any of the proceeds.
The business has an “F” rating on the Better Business Bureau and eight customer complaints.
The attorney general’s office said if any consumers believe they may have been damaged by these practiced, they can file a complaint with the attorney general’s office in Binghamton and seek restitution by Jan. 31, 2019.