Several Frederick, Maryland, furniture companies have been charged with failing to deliver orders as promised, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office said Thursday.
The Consumer Protection Division has filed charges against Christopher Engel, Karol Engel, Matthew Dihel, MOCHA Furniture, Urbana Custom Décor and Farmstead Custom Furniture for allegedly collecting deposits from customers to build custom furniture, and then failing to either provide the goods or refund the money, according to a news release.
A hearing on the charges is scheduled to begin July 27 in the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings.
On May 5, Frederick County Circuit Court Judge Richard Sandy entered a preliminary injunction against the defendants, stopping them from offering and selling furniture while taking any advance payments, and requiring them to pay to the Consumer Protection Division all amounts above the cost of the materials used to build items they sell in “cash and carry” transactions, Frosh’s office said.
The division alleges that the Engels have been taking orders and deposits for custom furniture, “misleading consumers with false promises of delivery, and failing to deliver the furniture or provide consumers’ owed refunds since at least late 2019.”
The defendants allegedly periodically changed their company’s name without telling the consumers to whom they owed money, and that Christopher Engel would tell customers who tracked him down that there was a “new” company under “new” ownership that owed them nothing when, in fact, Mr. Engel owned and operated each of the companies involved.
In March 2022, the most recent company, MOCHA, of which Dihel is a co-owner, told customers that it no longer had the resources to make their ordered furniture or to pay back their deposits, according to the release.
“Taking deposits for goods, failing to deliver the goods, and refusing to provide owed refunds are all violations of Maryland’s consumer protection laws,” said Frosh. “We are seeking relief for consumers who didn’t receive their furniture, and we have gotten an order from the court that will stop the Defendants from hurting any more consumers until this case can be adjudicated.”
The division is seeking a permanent injunction, restitution for customers, costs and penalties.
Customers with complaints against any of the defendants may call the Consumer Protection Division at 410-528-8662, or file a complaint online.